Yoga Exercises

Why You May Want to Start Cross-Training for Chaturanga

“Practice and all is coming?” Maybe not Chaturanga, truly, says Yoga Deconstructed® creator Trina Altman. Here she explains how she lastly constructed sufficient power to do the pose each safely and pain-free.

In a great Chaturanga, you employ stability and power all through your physique to decrease your self with management, maintaining your head, ribs, and hips in a single related aircraft. Until very just lately, a scarcity of upper-body power had all the time made pushing exercises like this a problem for me. I had been unsuccessfully making an attempt to do a push-up since PE class in elementary faculty—and unsuccessfully making an attempt to do a Chaturanga since my first vinyasa movement class in 2003. And I’m not alone. Many yogis lack the power to keep correct type on this pose, collapsing within the low again, shoulders, or neck or perhaps experiencing ache within the wrists, shoulders, or backbone.

According to this calculation, you want to have the opportunity to bench-press 56 % of your physique weight to do a push-up with good type. For Chaturanga, you want that power particularly within the smaller muscle mass, just like the triceps and anterior deltoids, as an alternative of the bigger and stronger pectoralis main muscle, as a result of the narrower place of the arms shifts the load.

Why It Took More Than Practice to Perfect My Chaturanga

When I️ was rising up within the ’70’s and ’80’s, the best way we have been taught new gymnastics stunts, resembling again handsprings and handstands, was by training them with a spotter or on our personal on an enormous squishy mat. The concept was that in case you practiced them sufficient, ultimately someday, you’d have the opportunity to do the talent. Unfortunately, many yoga poses are nonetheless taught with the identical old-school mentality regardless of trendy exercise science’s understanding of the significance of cross-training and regression—breaking strikes down into smaller items and mastering these earlier than placing them again collectively. Chaturanga is an ideal instance.

For many yogis (myself included), training vinyasas till Chaturanga will get simpler isn’t an choice, as a result of the pose itself causes ache (within the wrists, for me) and with out enough power damage. For years, I️ virtually all the time modified the pose by decreasing my knees, which alleviated the ache—so long as stored up my cross-training routine. 

There’s a fantasy within the yoga world that in case you have “proper alignment” the right muscular tissues will activate. Tips for Chaturanga often concentrate on alignment errors chances are you’ll be making—palms too far ahead or backward; shoulders dipping too low; or legs, glutes, or abs not partaking sufficient. While alignment does matter, sadly you’ll be able to’t repair a power or mobility deficiency with alignment cues. Being in a position to transfer pain-free whereas sustaining correct type, requires you to have the mobility to get your bones into the right place and the power to hold them there and help your joints as you progress into and out of a pose.

It wasn’t till I began engaged on constructing higher physique power with a private coach that I used to be in a position to do a well-aligned Chaturanga with out ache. Over the course of four months, I’ve progressed from bench-pressing 30 kilos to 65 kilos, with a slender grip to goal the triceps and deltoid muscle tissues and a spotter for security. For the primary time ever, I’ve been in a position to do a Chaturanga with out wrist ache and with out collapsing my chest and hips.

This isn’t to say that I’d have the opportunity to do the dozen or so chaturangas in a vinyasa class pain-free. That would take much more follow and power. But what I found is that I wanted to regress the motion, to construct power in my shoulders outdoors of the context of this complicated pose that additionally concurrently masses the wrists. And I wanted to use exterior load—resistance bands, free weights, machines—that might be incrementally elevated over time to strengthen my higher physique whereas additionally holding my wrists impartial. Without exterior load, I solely had two choices, the weight of my physique on my knees or on my toes.

A Couple of Reasons for Yogis to Consider Cross-Training

Current exercise science demonstrates the significance of cross-training, that’s, benefiting from different motion modalities to create a extra well-rounded motion apply. For instance, yoga is sweet for constructing upper-body pushing power however makes use of the identical load each time and doesn’t supply any choices for pulling. By cross-training with exterior load, you will have the power to construct power in all instructions at each joint, isolating particular muscle areas that want probably the most work, and reduce your danger of damage.

Exercise science proof additionally exhibits that one of the simplest ways to do this whereas minimizing the danger of damage is incrementally, what’s often known as progressive overload. That is, constructing power by steadily growing the resistance positioned in your physique, above and past what you’ve gotten beforehand skilled. For instance, for lots of my college students, the heaviest factor they’ve ever pushed is a grocery cart or a heavy door. For them to construct the power to do a Chaturanga utilizing progressive overload, they want to practice the physique by pushing one thing heavier than they’re used to, however in all probability not as heavy as half their physique weight to begin. Resistance bands, free weights, and machines merely supply extra choices.

By strengthening all of the muscular tissues that help your higher physique, your Chaturanga will enhance. This concept of constructing power with exterior load can be used to troubleshoot different yoga poses. Most of us aren’t ready to push half our physique weight away from the ground in Plank, Downward Dog, or Chaturanga, a lot much less our full physique weight in Crow Pose or Handstand.

Ultimately, you do want to follow to grasp a talent. However, to forestall damage, you additionally want to tackle any of your underlying weaknesses as nicely, which is just simpler to do utilizing exterior load.

See additionally 3 Things Modern Postural Yoga Could Do Better

Chaturanga Strength & Mobility Self-Tests

Do you might have the upper-body power Chaturanga requires?

You can do a easy self-test to verify if in case you have sufficient power to carry out a Chaturanga whereas sustaining stability. You’ll want entry to a fitness center. There, see in case you are in a position to push a bit of greater than half of your physique weight on a chest press machine.


Do you’ve got the vary of movement Chaturanga requires?

While many individuals don’t have the power to do Chaturanga sustaining good alignment, many others won’t have the vary of movement (ROM) the pose requires on the wrist joint. Both may end up in ache. 

I had adequate passive vary of movement in my wrists—we name this “flexibility”—however I wrestle with lively ROM—”mobility.” It’s straightforward to drive your wrists into the required place by dumping your physique weight into them in Planks and arm balances, however it’s one other factor altogether to have the ability to actively obtain that ROM with motor management, power, and stability.

To examine your personal ROM within the wrists: Bring the insides of your forearms and palms collectively in Prayer, after which try to prolong the wrists away from one another to make the letter T together with your arms. If you’ve gotten extra of a letter V together with your arms, you then don’t have sufficient lively vary of movement in your wrists to do Chaturanga with out risking a repetitive stress damage.

three Beginner Cross-Training Tips for Chaturanga

If you have an interest in including exterior load to your motion routine to construct shoulder power for Chaturanga, ideally you’d begin by working with a private coach. However, in case you don’t have entry to a private coach, my coach Andrew Serrano gives the next tips to get you began utilizing the chest press machine at a fitness center.

1. Use sufficient weight.

The commonest mistake individuals make is training too many reps with out sufficient weight, so as to really feel the burn, Serrano says. Rather than specializing in sensation, select a difficult weight—one the place you are able to do 5 to 6 reps with good type however not many extra.


2. Address all your weak factors.

If you’ll be able to push greater than half of your physique weight, however you continue to expertise wrist ache, then you may also want to work in your wrist and forearm mobility and power. Two of the movies under present how I’ve been doing that. And Serrano says, you might also want to strengthen the rotator cuff, as well as to your pushing muscle tissues. Try the transfer within the following video with a resistance band to strengthen your rotator cuff and deltoids.

Wrist exercise
Forearm exercise
Rotator cuff exercise

three. Make positive to stability pushing with pulling.

Lastly, it’s important to follow pulling exercises to cross-train all of the pushing from chest-pressing, Serrano says. Try the pulling exercise within the following video demonstrating a pulling exercise that you are able to do within the health club.


About Our Expert
Trina Altman, B.S., E-RYT 500, YACEP, PMA®-CPT, STOTT PILATES® licensed teacher, is the creator of Yoga Deconstructed® and Pilates Deconstructed®, which each take an interdisciplinary strategy to foster an embodied understanding of yoga and Pilates and their relationship to trendy motion science. While at Brown University, Trina took a Kripalu yoga class which ignited her ardour for the follow. Emphasizing the significance of internal focus, she teaches anatomy for yoga instructor trainings throughout the nation. She has introduced at Kripalu, PURE YOGA® NYC, Yogaworks, Cal-a-Vie Spa, SYTAR, the Yoga Alliance Leadership Conference, ECA, UCLA and a number of yoga conferences. Her educating fosters physique cognition and self-discovery, firmly grounded in anatomical consciousness. Trina works out of Los Angeles at Equinox and The Moving Joint. You can discover her on-line courses and programs at

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