Using Props to Perfect Chaturanga
If you've been following my blog lately, you'll know I've been sharing my tips on how you can really nail down chaturanga pose. Once you've take the time to practice the perfect plank and to build up your upper body strength and your form with these three exercises, it's time to move on to perfecting your chaturanga. Here, I've included 3 moves you can try at home to help you get the next level.
Exercise 1: Block "Abs"
This exercise is designed to train your body to avoid dropping your hips while you continue to build upper body strength. The blocks are placed along the line of where your "six pack" would be, making sure the edge of the closest block is lined up with your hip crease. Place your hands slightly behind your shoulders, so that when you lower down, your elbows and wrists will be at 90 degrees. Lower your chest so that your shoulders are in line with your hips. Once you get comfortable and strong here, you can work on extending your legs long.
Perform this exercise 3-4 times daily, holding about 5 breaths each time. The blocks may feel a little uncomfortable under your belly, but this exercise will train hips from falling too far down below your chest.
Exercise #2: The Hip Helper
This move builds on the previous one but takes it to the next level. In this move, you are pretty much doing chaturanga but the blocks prevent you from collapsing as you continue to build strength throughout your body and they also serve as a guide to make sure you are not lowering to far down. The aim is always to keep the shoulders, elbows and hips at the same height. Begin in plank pose on your toes with the blocks positioned as before (the lower edge lined up with your hip crease). Lower down in one line until your belly is supported by the blocks. Stay there for a few breaths. You can press yourself back up or move through a modified upward-facing dog pose. Practice one set of 10 daily until you feel ready to move on.
Exercise #3: Not-Too-Low Flow
This last exercise is for when you feel really strong in your chaturanga but are still not sure how far down to go before it's too low. If you still struggling with pausing or holding chaturanga with shoulders, elbow and hips aligned, then begin in plank pose (on your toes) with two blocks in between your hands. The bottom edge of the blocks should roughly line up with the fingers, so that when you lower down, the blocks support your shoulders. Once you lower down, hold for 5 breaths and then either lower your knees or press back up. Practice one set of 10 daily until you feel ready to try it without any blocks!
These three moves should get you geared up to try chaturanga without any support. To get better and better, try to hold chaturanga as long as you can before moving into upward-facing dog or cobra. Better yet, keep trying to press back up to plank! Still to come...supporting/modifying your chaturanga in your group class and counter poses to balance out your body.