What Are The Mechanics Of Lowering Into Chaturanga?

September 8, 2020     chaturanga | scapula | serratus anterior | Anatomy | Torso | Your Questions

Transcript: What are the mechanics of lowering into chaturanga?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. If you have a question that you’d like to submit to us, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll try to get it on video. This month’s question comes from Ruth and it is about the mechanics of lowering into chaturanga.

The Question:

“Hi David, I have just watched your video answering Matt’s question [DK: a different question of the month] about winged scapula and want to ask about the mechanics involved in the lowering action into chaturanga.”

The Answer:

Good question. I think I reviewed that video before I sat down for this one. In that video, we talk about winged scapula and what muscle is involved in keeping the shoulder blades against the rib cage, which is of course serratus anterior. I do talk a little bit about the mechanics there, so I’m not totally sure what part you’re missing, but let me just walk through it.

Let’s assume for a moment that we’re starting in high plank, which is kind of where we left off with Matt. When you’re in high plank, you’re pressing through your hands in such a way that you’re engaging serratus anterior to lift the torso up through those shoulder blades. That’s what we discussed there.

It’s the next part, the lowering into chaturanga, I assume, is what you’re talking about. And these mechanics become difficult. You’re going to have to do two things simultaneously. You’re going to have to maintain enough contraction of serratus so that the shoulder blades don’t wing again, and at the same time you’re going to have to transfer that intention into other smaller muscles like triceps and deltoids, just to cover the big obvious ones that most people are familiar with. That shift from maintaining serratus to also relaxing those other muscles is the common sticking point, or difficult place where people get to; they can’t do both of those things simultaneously.

So, if you were building up the mechanics of lowering into chaturanga, you would start with the serratus, and then, only let your elbows bend an inch or two inches or three inches. Instead of trying to go all the way down, just try to go down a little bit while maintaining serratus and relaxing off the contraction of triceps and deltoids a little bit. Start to build up the pattern in that way. Obviously, on top of that you’ve got other things going on, depending on where you’re starting from, how much shoulder strength you have. But the important thing in any of the mechanics, in any of the postures and techniques, is that you build up the pattern slowly and over time. There’s no magic trick. There are areas of intention.

It sounds to me based on your question, and this is an assumption and a guess on my part, that that switch point of serratus shifting off into the other muscles is what you’re looking for with respect to the mechanics of lowering into chaturanga. So, just bite off a small piece of it. Do a small movement and then build on that over time, even if you have to put your knees on the ground. All of those different techniques and ways of modifying are totally acceptable. I hope that helped because I wasn’t totally clear on the exact mechanic part that you were asking about. But, hopefully that covered it anyway.

Alright everybody! If you’ve got a question that you’d like to submit, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll get it on video.

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