When I first started yoga I did a lot of Vinyasa flow type yoga. Inevitably there is a series where I start in Down Dog and move through Plank – Chatarunga – Up Dog back to Down Dog. It wasn’t until I went through my yoga teacher training that I began to understand that Chatarunga was an actual posture separate from Up Dog.
In taking the time to break down the posture, I came to understand why it is often rushed through in most yoga classes; it’s a challenging posture. By challenging, I mean mentally as well as physically.
The first thing to understand is that Chatarunga is not a push-up. I love push-ups, but the physical alignment is a little different and the tempo and breathing are (typically) different. This change in tempo (much slower in theory) and the precision of the posture can increase the resistance to this posture.
The first step is to start in a good plank. Shoulders over the wrist, long back, extending through the crown of the head and the heels in opposite directions and engage the abs.
You want to avoid moving straight down like a push up or “dropping” down as I have been queued on multiple occasions. You also want to avoid any drooping or mountain butt posture.
Instead shift your body forward so the shoulders move slightly past the palms.
Coordinating your breath, exhale and slowly lower your body toward the ground. Stop lowering when your triceps become parallel to the ground (avoid the chest bump on the mat).
Inhale and slow push back up to plank or push back to downward dog.
Slowing this posture down and recognizing it as a posture of its own is the first step to discovering a fantastically challenging, dynamic and versatile pose. As you play with this asana, you’ll find it fits into a great many places in a flow and the challenges it offers and the work it does to help the body and mind make it irresistible.
If you would like to share your experiences, I encourage you to leave comments here.