I see a lot of misaligned Chaturanga Dandasana in my Vinyasa yoga classes… and shoulder, wrist and elbow injuries come right along with that. Students are injuring themselves because they are not being taught.
Unfortunately we aren’t “teaching” this pose. I have heard teachers refer to themselves as simply a guide and that’s ok, I guess it takes some pressure off. But a good guide would want to take you in the direction of safety, right? So whatever we feel comfortable calling ourselves, as yoga teachers it’s our Dharmic responsibility to make sure students are doing things in a way that will not lead to injury. And equally important, as students we must trust and be receptive to the teacher’s instruction.
Anything we do repetitively, no matter how well aligned, at some point will put stress on the body. So here’s another point… do you really need to do a hundred Chaturangas in a flow class? Instead, try holding one good one for 30 seconds like Iyengar suggests in Light On Yoga. Too often we are influenced by the “more is better” principle in our society. Personally, I’ll take quality over quantity in my yoga practice and I applaud the same with my students.
I have been told I “workshop too much” in my classes because I will stop a flow class to break down Chaturanga. I teach to what I see and I give my students what they need. I get it… students (and studio owners) don’t want to stop the flow. Yet nothing stops a flow like a rotator cuff injury. So as yoga teachers we have to choose: do we give our students what they need or what they want… or what we want? Hmmmm… I guess I’d say a little bit of everything. But for the most part I save what I want for my personal practice and keep both eyes on the students in my classes.
As you can tell I am on a mission to clean up the Chaturanga pose and keep yogis in their flow. Here’s a short tune up video on this pose for you to watch.
May your flow be inspired ~ intelligent ~ intuitive.