Alignment and Transition from Chaturanga Dandasana to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Somedays back I asked my Ashtanga teacher that I have been practicing yoga from so many years now yet, I am not able to do so many asanas properly. Why is that? When will I be able to do them? In reply, she asked me only one question, “How regularly have you been practicing?”. “Umm, I have phases of regularity”, I said. “You do it regularly for 1 year and then we will talk”, she replied.
I got my answer so I went for practice even on a saturday today. Today she conducts an ashtanga led class for beginners. Where she also teaches us the basic alignment in various poses. And boy there is so much to learn and correct every time.
Today she taught us the correct way of doing chaturanga dandasana. And the correct way of transition from it to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog). And then the correct way of doing upward facing dog. When we do any exercise or asana correctly with proper alignment then it feels so different on the muscles. My core, arms and chest muscles feel more sore today than they usually do after the practice. Let me share what I learnt today
I guess in a simple suryanamaskar the most challenging part is doing a chaturanga dandaasana properly and then transitioning from it to upward dog. Rest of the poses in a suryanamaskar are still forgiving. But this part is what sucks up all the energy and brings out all the sweat .
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Correct way of doing Chaturanga dandaasana
1. It is not a push up. It’s an asana. This pose needs our full body strength. It strengthens the arms and legs, tones the abdominals, builds healthy shoulders, and prepares students for arm balances, inversions, and backbends.
In this asana our body is trying to pull us down due to force of gravity and we have to hold it back using the strength of our arms, chest, legs and core muscles. for that first of all we will have to balance ourselves in a plank with perfect alignment, engaging requisite muscles.
Correct way to balance be in a plank
a) Spread your hands wide. knuckles touching the floor. All fingers spread wide, touching the floor. The center of the palm making a kind of a suction with the floor.
b) Hands are shoulder distance apart and are directly below the shoulders.
d) Buttocks are neither piked up nor falling down. They whole body is straight like a plank from head to heel.
e) Legs, arms, core muscles are engaged. Hip muscles are not clenched but the core, leg, arms and chest muscles are contracted. You should feel the heat building up in all of these muscles, when you are in this pose.
f) You are on your toes.
Now time for some fun.. From plank go to chaturanga dandaasana by bending your elbows. As shown in all the image above. Stay exactly like you were in plank and move down with elbows stuck to the ribs. Elbows should not move out.
Take a closer look of elbow position in the picture below
This is what makes it a challenge. This is the way of engaging arms, core, legs, chest in chaturanga dandaasana, with proper alignment.
Now once you are in chaturanga dandaasana, time for transition to urdhva mukha svanasana or upward facing dog.
General mistake is to flop the legs on the floor while taking chest and head upward.
Correct way of doing Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog
First of all let us learn about the transition techniques. In chaturanga dandaasna clench the abdominal muscles to bring out a force to move the chest and head, forward and upward. and simultaneously tuck your toes under without flopping the legs on the floor. So it looks something like this
a) Shoulder blades pulled downwards and towards each other all time. Chest is puffed out.
b) Palms and fingers are spread wide. The motion of the head and chest while transition is forward and upward.
c) The legs are not on the floor. They are fully engaged.
d) The toes are tuck on the floor.
e) You can take your head upward and bend it but the sight is always on the nose.
From here tuck the toes under and move to downward facing dog While you do all this please breathe. Let your breathe help us in the transitions.
Please try this. You will feel more length in your body and will feel a good pain as if you were trying to strengthen your muscles in the right way. Let me know if you have any questions.
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