How to Save Your Shoulders in Chaturanga Dandasana
How many times do you do Chaturanga Dandasana, Four Limbed Staff Pose or Low Plank, when you practice yoga? Practice a couple of times a week and the load on your shoulders adds up. What’s “downstream” —your wrists and elbows— will be strained if your shoulders are in poor alignment, too. Let’s breakdown the pose to keep your shoulders, wrists and elbows healthy, happy and pain-free.
Begin in Plank
From the top of your push up position, draw your shoulder blades onto your back so your arm bones plug back into the sockets. When you do this, your chest descends down towards the floor and forward through the window of your arms. Just make sure your hips and belly don’t sag.
Elbows In-Line With Shoulders
As you begin to lower, lead with your chest and keep your collar bones broad. Shift your weight forward as you descend; you’ll move on a diagonal rather than dropping straight to the floor. This puts your elbows at a right angle and exponentially decreases strain on your wrists and shoulders. Stop your descent so your shoulders are never below your elbows. If you go lower it means you’re at risk for injury!
Work Your Hands
Always keep the inner edges of your hands down, so your palms are flat. Press your fingertips into the ground until you feel your hands and wrists tone. If you allow them to lift, it dumps weight back into your wrists. Over time, your shoulders will compensate for this and you might get hurt.
PS: If you get your protractor out, my shoulders are actually a little lower than my elbows, even though my arm bones are back, oops! It’s good to see yourself, so try doing this in front of a mirror or have a friend take a picture…