Chatarunga Dandasana is one of the yoga poses that many people have heard of, but few practice correctly. I remember when I first started taking yoga I was sure I was practicing this pose correctly, but I messed up my triceps with my faulty alignment. I’ve learned so much about form and alignment since then, and I’m sharing this information with you so that you don’t get hurt in your practice.
Please be aware that this pose, which is so common in photographs, is quite challenging. It’s very important to focus on your alignment while practicing this pose to avoid injury. Here’s how to practice Chatarunga Dandasana with and without props.
- Use ujjayi breathing throughout.
- Begin in Plank pose.
- Make sure that your hands are just slightly wider than your chest.
- Draw your belly button toward your spine.
- Broaden your collarbones so that your chest opens and your shoulder blades move in to the correct position on your back.
- Shift your weight forward so that your shoulders move just past your wrists.
- Puff in to the kidney area of the back of your body as you bend your elbows and start to lower. Make sure that your elbows come right by your rib cage as you lower.
- When your rib cage is level with your elbows, hold and breathe.
- Find an energetic length from your heels out through the very top of your head. Keep yourself in alignment.
- Challenge yourself to hold for as many breaths as you can.
- If you feel pain at any point in time, lower your knees and get out of this position. Back pain indicates that your abdominals aren’t doing their fair share of the work. Shoulder or elbow pain indicates that you’re probably not getting your arms and shoulders into the correct position before lowering.
Modifications of Chatarunga
There are two great modifications that I’ve found to make Chatarunga more accessible.
- Place a yoga block under your pelvis. You can have the block at the top of the pelvis, at the bottom towards the top of your thighs, or somewhere in the middle. The point is that the block helps support your weight and helps you train your muscles to hold you lifted and level as you breathe. Make sure that you don’t let yourself sink into the block. Keep lifted with your abdominals and try to hover.
- Use a yoga strap around your arms. Make sure that the strap is tightened so that your arms are wide enough for your rib cage to come between them but not so wide that your arms don’t brush your ribs. I’ve seen people place the strap just above the elbow, but I really prefer to have it just below my elbow. Either way will work. Make sure that you don’t let yourself sink into the strap. Keep lifted with your abdominals and try to hover.
Chatarunga Dandasana Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
What is your biggest challenge with this pose? Let us know in the comments below.
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