Why You May Want to SKIP that Chataranga!
Yoga postures have been around a LONG time… for over 200 years! When the asanas (postures) came about, people used their bodies very differently than in today’s modern world. It’s now very common for someone in the US to spend 6-10 hours a day sitting, while working a desk job, driving or watching television. Cell phones have also changed the way in which we sit or stand for long periods of time, while holding a small device, looking down and putting our fingers to work. This leads to unbalanced posture and adds stress on your wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. When yoga asana originated, life required more daily movement than today. I’d guess that a yoga student’s posture and body alignment in India during the 1800’s would be very different than the average student in the US today. So some postures and yoga sequences that originated back then, may need to be modified to support the needs of the average yoga student today.
This brings me to Chataranga Dandasana, or High to Low Plank. If you are a vinyasa practioner, you’ve likely done this posture thousands of times. Or maybe you are new to yoga and recognize that it’s revisited again and again throughout a typical “flow” style class. When done properly, it builds strength in the arms, back and core muscles. However, when done improperly and repeatedly, it can wreak havoc on the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Especially if you are a desk worker, drive or sit often. As a yoga instructor, I’ve been observing bodies for over 10 years. It’s much more common for me to see a mis-aligned chataranga, due to improper muscle engagement, posture challenges or lack of strength, than it is to see a properly executed chataranga.
If you are noticing sensitivity in your shoulders, elbows or wrists, it may be time to consider scaling back on chatarangas. You don’t have to do every chataranga offered in a class, or none at all. If you are choosing to opt out, let the instructor know before class of your injury or area of sensitivity. Explain to them that you will be modifying to protect your body. This will prevent them from trying to correct you or check-in when you are choosing your own modifications. Check out my video post showing : 7 Ways to Avoid a Chataranga Dandasana in Yoga on my YouTube Channel. This will give you some options to utilize in a vinyasa (flow) yoga class so you can continue to practice that style of yoga, while healing from any wrist, elbow, shoulder or neck injuries. You can also opt for another style of yoga that typically won’t offer this posture at all, like Hatha, Iyengar, Restorative or HOT style classes. Practice SAFE and please share this post with any yogis it may benefit! Namaste.