How to Do Chaturanga, or a Yoga Push-Up

Spend time getting to know the full-body posture crucial to your Vinyasa flow.

If you've ever done a yoga class before, you're probably pretty familiar with Chaturanga (demonstrated above by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti). While you may do your Chaturangas on autopilot while transitioning between standing poses, it pays to give the move your full attention. Why? Taking time to focus on each part of the move will help you get the most out of it and engage almost every muscle in your body. Seriously, it's that good!

Here, the pros explain how to do Chaturanga with proper form, the benefits of the exercise, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

How to Do Chaturanga

Even though you've likely seen myriad yoga instructors demonstrate the movement, it pays to study it more in-depth. To see the proper movement pattern, watch the video above, then flow through it on your own using the directions below.

A. From halfway lift, exhale to plant palms on the mat slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Spread fingers wide and step or jump back to high plank.

B. Inhale, shifting forward onto tops of toes. Draw front ribs in and tip hips up to engage core.

C. Exhale, bending elbows toward 90 degrees, elbows pointing straight back.

D. Inhale, lifting chest, hovering hips, and straightening arms to move into upward facing dog.

The Key Chaturanga Benefits

"Chaturanga Dandasana translates to four-limbed staff pose," says Heather Peterson, former chief yoga officer at CorePower Yoga. "You have your toes and palms on the ground while your body is a straight plank hovering over the floor with your elbows at a 90-degree angle," she explains. Here's what Chaturanga can do for you:

Prepares the Muscles for Challenging Upper-Body Yoga Postures

This is one of the most challenging poses in the basic flow of a Vinyasa class, says Peterson. It's a go-to move for building your upper-body strength, and you'll definitely feel it in your chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, and forearms. Focusing on this pose will train and prepare your upper body for advanced arm balances such as the crow, firefly, and hurdler poses.

Works the Full Body

Similar to a plank, it also hits your core muscles, but you need to remember to engage your leg muscles to make this full-body, says Peterson. You'll work your legs when you use them to help you distribute the force of the move throughout your body.

Chaturanga Variations

If you have wrist pain, try using blocks under your hands or large weights to take the bend out of your wrist. If you have shoulder pain or feel your low back or hips dipping down, come down to your knees after you shift forward in the pose. Remember: There's no shame in modifying if it means you're doing the move correctly.

Mastered the pose already? Try lifting one leg off the mat or taking a chin stand as you shift forward to make it even more advanced.

Common Chaturanga Mistakes

To make sure you're firing all the upper-body muscles, while in plank, imagine rotating your palms externally to fire up the muscles between and on the back of your shoulder blades. Also, make sure to turn the inner crease of elbows forward and point elbows back. Engage your quads and draw your inner thighs together to activate the leg muscles and make the movement full-body.

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