A long time ago, in my past life as an “advanced” yogi, I wrote a post on this blog about the proper way to do Chaturanga. Yesterday, as part of my slow and on-going recovery, I went to another Anusara class and got a totally different take on Chaturangas/Vinyasas that blew my mind.
Here’s how I used to do Chaturanga.
But now I learned a new way. This helpful teacher at Dhyana Yoga made some adjustments for me and suggested that I allow my elbows to flare out to the side a bit when I go through a Vinyasa. She also suggested that I sink my chest in Plank Pose, before shifting into a Vinyasa, so as to ensure that my shoulders don’t roll forward. I might not be reporting her instructions 100% accurately, and I’m sure that I probably missed a thing or two, but I think I got the gist of what she was trying to tell me. This teacher’s approach to Chaturangas/Vinyasas was really quite surprising to me, since I’d always been told to keep my elbows in tight to my side body–so tight, in fact, that my arms may even brush the sides of my chest as I lower from Plank into Chaturanga. Also, it’s a big no-no in most Vinyasa classes to allow your elbows to flare out to the sides.
This teacher at Dhyana, though, offered me a new approach, which I think is how they do it in Anusara (maybe someone out there can set me straight on this…). What I noticed is that when I did Vinyasas the way this teacher suggested, it bothered my shoulder much less. I felt my chest muscles engaging more, and there was less strain on my shoulder joint. Today, I’m a big sore from practicing, but it’s muscle soreness, not that bad, achy, “I screwed up my joints” soreness. I haven’t felt that good, post-yoga muscle soreness in so long, I almost forgot what it feels like! I really hope that this new approach to Chaturanga and Vinyasas will make enough of a difference in my practice so that I can continue on without having a relapse of my shoulder problems. I guess only time will tell whether this is the solution.
This teacher also gave me some suggestions for modifying my Down-Dog. More on that next time….