Chaturanga Dandasana push-ups are some of my favorite winter warmer poses. I usually do them in sets of 10. Great for arm and core strength, a couple of sets will soon get your heart pumping and your blood warm. In his book,“Light on Yoga” BKS Iyengar advises that Chaturanga Dandasana “strengthens the arms and the wrists develop mobility and power. It also contracts and tones the abdominal organs.”
- Start in plank pose. Check that your body is in a straight line like an incline plane.
- Make the arms vertical to the floor; keep the legs strong and lock the knees by digging the toes into the floor; engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the pubis up towards the navel while lengthening the tailbone towards the heels.
- Press firmly through the inner palms; broaden the collar bones; and shrug the shoulders down the back away from the neck.
- To maintain the straight line of plank pose keep the legs straight and strong, and the abdominal muscles alert as you bend the elbows back by your waist to enter Chaturanga Dandasana.
- Pull the elbows into the sides of the trunk and roll the tops of the shoulders back to prevent them from hunching into the neck.
- Hold for a few seconds, then press strongly through the inner hands to straighten the arms and return to plank pose.
- Repeat, moving in and out from plank to Chaturanga 5 to 10 times.
- If you bottom out on the floor when you lower into the pose, use a bolster or some folded blankets under your thighs for support. The pose will still be work, but should be more doable. Once you get stronger you can remove the support.
Problem: pose feels like it’s all arm work.
Solution: with practice, learn to evenly distribute the work between the arms, legs and abdomen.
Problem: thighs sagging down means the legs aren’t working.
Solution: press the toes strongly into the floor to help engage the leg muscles.
Problem: buttocks sticking up means lower abdominal and buttock muscles are not engaged.
Solution: stretch the buttocks and tailbone back towards the inner heels; and pull the pubis up towards the navel.
Problem: chest lifting up means the upper abdominal muscles are not engaged.
Solution: keep abdominal wall fully engaged, from the lower front ribs to the top of the pubis.
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