Chaturanga Dandasana: Master the Vinyasa Transition Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana is an important and frequent transition during a vinyasa class. Done correctly, it builds strength in the whole body. Done incorrectly, it’s can harm shoulders, especially with the repetition of this pose in many yoga classes. I’ve heard a poorly aligned chaturanga called “the shoulder shredder.”

I see so many students misaligned in chaturanga. Let’s fix that!

Strong chaturanga alignment.

Strong chaturanga alignment.

Here is the correct body alignment when you lower on your exhalation. Notice that:

  • Shoulders and elbows are aligned.

  • Elbows are hugged into ribs

  • Shoulders are away from ears

  • Full body is in plank pose with the neck aligned with the spine:

This video by Kathryn Budig demonstrates both correct alignment and common misalignments. Notice how she stresses that the sequence is:

  • Strong plank pose with core engaged and glutes and quads strong in the legs (this takes pressure off the shoulders)

  • On an inhale, roll forward on your toes until your elbows are over your wrist.

  • As you exhale, hold your strong legs and core and simply bend your elbows, hugging them into toward the body, until your shoulder and elbow height is even. That’s it. No dips anywhere.

Remember, it’s always ok to drop your knees to your mat if you’re fatigued or you feel yourself losing the alignment. Strength will come over time with safe alignment, and you’ll protect your shoulders.

Mary CullenComment