Tag Archives: shoulder strengthening

Yoga | Pose Of The Week | Chaturanga Dandasana

For years, I thought I was doing chaturanga the right way (often thought of as the yoga push-up or the tricep push-up). I thought my form was awesome! I also thought it didn’t really matter how good my form was in this particular pose. I had no idea that it was the foundation for so many arm balances!

Then I started practicing yoga every day, and I started studying chaturanga in detail. And I realized, all those years I had been doing it wrong! Thus, over the past several months, I have worked toward perfecting my chaturanga.

There are lots of benefits linked to perfecting your yoga push-up. For starters, it’s a great strengthener, strengthening your core, arms, back, and wrists (strong wrists are super important for those arm balances). And, as I mentioned earlier, all of this strengthening is supa good for developing the strength required to eventually get into those infamous arm balances in the first place.


Steps to Mastering Your Chaturanga Dandasana:

  1. Start in plank pose. Your shoulders should be above your wrists.
  2. On an inhale, roll forward on your toes, bringing your shoulders forward of your wrists and your heels above the balls of your feet. (This, for me, has been the key to correcting my form in this pose. I wasn’t rolling forward enough, and the next step ended up out of alignment.)
  3. On an exhale, begin to lower down, keeping your elbows drawn in to your sides. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle, with your elbows directly above your wrists. If you didn’t roll forward on those toes enough in the last step, this is where you’ll see some misalignment.
  4. Your goal is to keep your body as straight as possible. Don’t sag your center or stick your butt in the air (as you can see, I’m still struggling with this a bit, as I tend to pop my butt up just a little).
  5. Hold the pose for as long as possible. Start with 5 seconds, and build your way up to 10, 15, or even 30 seconds.
  6. To come out of the pose, you have two choices. Either lower down all the way to the floor (nice release!) or challenge yourself even more and see if you can push back up into plank pose (wow — that’s a challenge!).



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Yoga | Pose Of The Week | Downward Facing Dog

When I first started yoga, I strongly disliked downward facing dog pose. I mean, like, for reals! I found it difficult to sustain for long periods (which equated to a few breaths), and I certainly did not find it restful. A coworker once told me that she used to feel the same way, but over the years, she grew to love it and found it relaxing.

I swore I would never love downward facing dog!

But I’ve gotta tell ya. She was right. All these years later, I do love downward facing dog. I find it simultaneously invigorating and relaxing. And I think it’s one of the best poses to build and sustain shoulder strength (because you’ve gotta have some shoulder strength to maintain this pose for any length of time). It’s also one of the best poses to return to when you’re needing a moment to breathe.

Aside from the awesome upper body strengthening, downward dog has lots of stretching benefits. These include stretching the back, the chest, the shoulders, the hamstrings, the calves, and the Achilles tendons!


Steps to Master Downward Facing Dog Pose:

  1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Check to see that your hips are directly over your knees and your knees are hip width apart. Your palms should be slightly forward of your shoulders, shoulders width apart.
  2. Tuck your toes under.
  3. Spread your fingers wide.
  4. On an exhale, push into your hands and feet. Lift your knees away from the floor, and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. At first, keep your knees bent and the heels of your feet away from the floor.
  5. Continue pushing into your hands to maintain the evenness of the pose.
  6. After a few breathes, slowly start to straighten your knees (careful not to lock them) and lower your heels toward the floor. Your knees may not straighten completely, and your heels may not reach the floor. This is all okay! Don’t push yourself too hard. With practice, you’ll get there one day.
  7. Hold this pose for a minimum of 30 seconds.
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