Grow Your Pose: How To Chaturanga Like a Pro

By: Amanda Schultz ft. Jaimis Huff

Do you remember your first yoga class? Were you a little nervous looking around at all the limber bodied  men and women? You are positive that all of them can do headstands while riding an elephant. But there you are, ready for your first yoga flow.

The teacher begins to speak, moving you through poses that you have definitely heard of before, you begin to gain some confidence thinking " I can totally do this". You are in Child's pose and then Table Top. You're a cat. Then you're a cow.

You push back into your first Downward Dog when the teacher suddenly stops speaking English and says,

" CHATURANGA"

You quickly glance out of the corner of your eye to mat next to yours, thinking to yourself, "Chatawhatga?!".

But it's too late, the guy beside you is pressed into Up Dog. You think you saw him do a high plank then maybe a low plank, but you aren't quite sure. You regain your composure and you continue to flow.

Weeks, months or maybe years have gone by since you found yourself on a mat for the first time. And since our first yoga class, we have all probably done a million and one Chaturanga poses.

But how many of us have taken the time to slowly feel our way through the posture?

While yoga is an incredibly versatile practice, moving into a posture the wrong way can put us at risk for injury, so let's explore a few tips on how to do a safe and effective Chaturanga.

To learn a little bit about the posture, we reached out to Charlotte's very own Jaimis Huff. Jaimis has been living in the QC for a little over 2 years. She is E-RYT 500 and a certified Rocket Vinyasa Teacher. Along with teaching classes at Vibe5 and OM Yoga, she is also Co Founder of Queen City Living Yoga which offers workshops, teacher training and retreats (check out the upcoming January retreat, #goals).

In case you are wondering, the answer is yes, she is just as inspiring as she sounds! To learn all about where to find Jaimis, visit www.Jaimishuff.com.

Huff herself, is no stranger to injury. Specifically, injury caused by incorrectly practicing Chaturanga. In the beginning of her yoga practice she experienced a shoulder injury that took months to heal. In an effort to help us all, she has put together a Fantastic guide to help us feel our way through the posture.

While Chaturanga is practiced in every power yoga class, it’s a pose teachers often don’t break down. It builds strength in the upper body and core and helps us learn the foundation for more advanced postures that require balancing on our hands.

I’m a big believer in modifications and making small (or big!) changes to postures in order to fit each student’s body, since nobody is exactly the same.  While you’ll rarely hear me tell a student they’re doing a pose “wrong”, this is a posture that if done incorrectly, there is potential for repetitive motion injuries in the shoulder.  In some classes, we call this pose out 20-30 times, even more!  That can be very tough on the body if you’re not supporting yourself in a safe way.

Many students practice Chaturanga incorrectly because it’s VERY challenging to do it the right way!  In order to do the full variation of the pose, you need significant arm, shoulder and abdominal strength.

Unlike a fitness pushup, Chaturanga requires a lot of core strength.  If you overcompensate for lack of core strength and make your shoulders do all the work, you’re at a pretty high risk for shoulder injury over time.

Here are a few key points to remember when doing Chaturanga:

  1. Start with your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread as wide as possible.
  2. Engage your core! Pull your navel in towards your spine and hug front ribs in.
  3. Shift your entire body forward – all the way onto your toes (even further than you think you should! This is where the challenge comes in and keeping the core strong is important)
  4. Keep your body in a straight line as you begin to lower
  5. Hug your elbows into your sides of your body (they usually want to splay out to the sides)
  6. Lower until your arms form a 90-degree angle at your elbows. Be mindful of dropping the shoulders and sticking your butt up in the air!

Contributed by: Jaimis Huff

Need abit more of a visual? We've got you covered.

STEP ONE: Start with your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread as wide as possible

chauranga step 1.png

Need abit more of a visual? We've got you covered.

STEP TWO :  Engage Your Core! Shift your entire body forward – all the way onto your toes.

chaturanga step 2.png

STEP THREE : Keep your core tight. Hug your elbows into your sides. Lower your arms until you form a 90-degree angle with your elbows.

chaturanga step 3.png

For a modified version of this posture, simply keep your knees lowered to the ground.

chaturanga modified 1.png
chaturanga modified 2.png

There it is Yogi's. We want to give a big shout out to Jaimis for taking her time to help us all better understand Chaturanga. Check out all she has to offer over at www.JaimisHuff.com or on her super esthetic Instagram feed, JaimisYoga.

As with every Yoga posture, your body is your own. Never put yourself in a position that feels like it may lead to an injury. Now that you have all this awesome knowledge, we fully expect to see you and your mat Tuesday at 6:30 at OMB. Happy Chaturangaing (it's a word, trust me)!

By: Amanda Schultz, ft. Jaimis Huff