Chaturanga is probably one of the hardest poses in a vinyasa yoga class to master. If you’re not sure what Chaturanga is, it’s effectively a pushup in yoga. There really isn’t anything different about the yoga version or the one that you would do when you’re working out.
A pushup is basically just a moving plank. You want to keep the plank position the whole time, and just bend your elbows to lower to the ground. Don’t let your hips drop. If you want a visual on this check out my youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zztQSf9MSk
There are 3 stages to a Chaturanga or pushup. Here are techniques you can do that will help you build strength for these 3 stages.
The 3 Phases of Chaturanga:
- Lowering from Plank
- Pausing for a split second halfway down in your pushup position
- Pushing up from that halfway position into upward facing dog
Here are some tips to master each phase of chaturanga:
Phase 1: Lowering Down
Rather than trying to lower from the full plank position, drop to your knees and lower from there. Make sure your knees are slightly behind your hips so you’re in a plank-like position. Here are some more specific tips to mastering this phase:
- Lower all the way to the ground to start – master this action first
- If lowering to the ground is hard and you find that you start to “plop” towards the end of the move, bring the ground closer to you – grab yoga blocks, or pillows and lower to those instead.
- Stack them as high as you need to to feel like you have control over the movement and that you’re doing it well.
- You’re effectively bringing the ground closer to you and shortening the distance you need to lower with these props.
- If this is still hard, try plank/pushup positions with your hands lifted higher. Have your hands on a deks or chair and work on building strength there. Here’s a blog post that will help you visually understand what this might look like: “How to get Better at Plank Pose”.
- Here’s a youtube video about this if you want a visual:
Phase 2: Pausing
With this, I would just focus on core strength to start. Start incorporating forearm planks into your movement practice – see if you can work your way up to holding them for 1 minute. To do this:
- Hold a forearm plank for 10 seconds – make sure your hips are in line with your shoulders and not too high or low
- Take a 10 second break
- Repeat this 6 times so that you hit 1 minute of total work.
- As this gets easier, increase the amount of time you’re holding the plank and match your breaks to that time (ex: 20 seconds of hold, 20 seconds of rest, 3 times = 1 min). Eventually it will get easier and you’ll be able to do 1 min plank holds.
Phase 3: Pushing Up
This is a similar set up as phase 1. Take a bolster, yoga blocks, pillows – anything that you can lay on – this shortens the distance that you have to push yourself up. Rather than pushing up into a full plank, again, you’re going do a pushup with your knees down, which will decrease the load in your plank and make it easier to master. Here’s the setup:
- Start by laying down on your props with your hands in the pushup position.
- Engage your core, start with your knees down, and push yourself up from there.
- Don’t worry about lowering to the ground – only work on the pushup up part.
- As this gets easier, remove the props and work from the ground or a lower prop.
Once you master these 3 phases, Chaturanga and pushups will feel like nothing!
What do you feel like is the hardest phase of Chaturanga for you to master? Drop me a comment and let me know!
P.S. If you want more basic information about what a chaturanga is, check out my blog post about all things chaturanga.