The transition from chaturanga to upward-facing dog typically happens at least 10 times per yoga class. While toned arms and a strong core are a great bonus of flowing through this pose regularly, yogis often deal with injuries caused by chaturanga, which raises the question: Is this pose more trouble than it's worth?
Here's what we found out.
Proper form and alignment are crucial.
The act of slowly lowering your body from plank pose to the floor is amazing for building strength. It tones your legs, core, shoulders, and arms all at once—that's a lot of bang for your buck. But when done incorrectly, lower back pain and shoulder injuries arise very quickly.
"Fortunately, both can be corrected by proper alignment and moderation," yogi Sara Quiriconi tells mbg. "I see many students, especially in group settings, dipping their shoulders too low forward. A droopy lower back is common (banana back, as I like to call it), or I see them locking their shoulders when lowering to a low pushup, which ends up tightening the neck muscles and can lead to rotator cuff issues over time."
"In general, many people often have funky shoulders to begin with, so if you're not practicing this posture with proper alignment, it can quickly exacerbate any shoulder problems you might have to begin with," Sky Ting Yoga's Chloe Kernaghan adds. "The tricky thing is, it's an injury that happens over a longer period of time—so oftentimes seasoned practitioners have these injuries from years of improper alignment."
Here's Chloe flowing through chaturanga correctly (the lifted leg is optional, we promise):
So, is chaturanga good for you?
Yes. Chaturanga is amazing for building strength. "When done correctly, chaturanga teaches you how to support your whole body evenly," Yoga For Bad People's Heather Lilleston says. "It is also helpful when one wants to build heat or increase circulation, and this pose can be a neutralizer."
Long story short, if you're a seasoned yogi, chaturanga to your heart's content—just take some time to slow down and make sure you're doing it right.