On the Mat: Lower Pushup/Chatarunga Dandasana
With some glorious new pictures by a very talented friend, Edge of the Mat series is back with the third of the flow postures: chatarunga! While a difficult posture because of the upper body strength required, it has a pretty fantastic name. Go ahead, say it: ChatarUNga!
Essentially, this posture maintains the plank pose in the core and lower body while utilizing dynamic arm strength. The transition from plank to chatarunga happens on an exhale.
Some tips for a strong chatarunga:
1. In the transition from plank, shift your weight all the way forward into your toes. This helps you keep upper arms parallel to the mat.
2. Elbows in SUPER tight! I squeeze my arms in so much that the outsides of my ribs are actually resting on my upper arms. Helps to make sure your wrists are right below your shoulders, rather than wide like in a traditional pushup.
3. Only lower halfway down. Once upper arms are parallel to the mat, you are in chatarunga. If you lower yourself more, you are really just overstressing the muscles and joints as you move into the next posture (up dog). This also helps make the posture a bit easier.
4. Drop down to your knees while you build the upper body strength for chatarunga. Or perhaps start the class with full chatarunga, but if you get tired, the low back will start to cave and you will overwork the shoulders. Transition to your knees at that point so you can maintain good form while you work to build strength.
5. Ask for help or use a mirror. Sometimes it's tricky to feel the sensation of a straight spine. A teacher can help you start to lock in the technique.
*Photo courtesy of Patrick Smith