If you’ve been reading the majority of my visual yoga blogs, you might think of me as a uni-dimensional, couch-potato kind of yogi.
After all, my forte seems to substitute standard twists, inversions and supine poses with a lazier version. But every now and then I sneak in a demanding pose, and that often means that a few people of my regulars unsubscribe from my list (in the face of an impossible pose), and the go-for-broke yogis who think they’ll be getting a steady supply of uber intense poses sign up only to drop me like, well, like a hot couch potato, after the subsequent mellow poses.
Today we’re going for the intense variation on a pose that my mellow yogis already consider intense: chaturanga dandasana, the fancy Sanskrit name for the bottom-of-a-pushup position.
If you’ve ever practiced some aspect of flow, power or other intense yoga style, chances are you are well acquainted with the downward dog-chaturanga-upward dog sequence.
If you’re ready to take this to the next level of physical intensity, try this:
1. From downward dog, lift your right leg up in the air. (I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you do not need a description for downward dog.) Bend the right knee and revolve the hip fully open. I also like to push the heel of the supporting leg far up—the way that it intensifies the stretch delivers on all that downward dog is meant to do: spinal length and limb stretch. Stay here for two slow breaths.
2. Swing your right knee forward and, bending your elbows to descend into chaturanga (again, like the bottom of a push-up position), rest your knee on your upper right arm or your shoulder.
Here’s another view of the pose: you’re holding yourself up off the ground, head lifted, abdominals engaged. Stay here for two long breaths, then release back into downward dog and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Strengthening of your upper body and your core, plus a little hip joint flexibility thrown in for good measure.
Avoid if: Obviously, if you’re not strong enough for (or your wrists aren’t happy with) a regular chaturanga, this modification/intensification won’t work well, and you’ll want to skip this pose altogether. If it’s just an issue of strength, try just lifting one foot slightly off your mat in chaturanga. Eventually you will have the strength (and fortitude) to go for this version.
Final thoughts: With this pose I proudly proclaim that I’m more than a one-trick yogic pony: I’m a two-trick pony—yoga pose “lite” and yoga pose “on steroids.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Author’s own