Have you ever calculated your chaturanga “number” - the total number of times you’ve ever done this pose? (Chaturanga dandasana is yoga’s “push-up” pose, part of the ubiquitous vinyasa sequence found in flow styles like Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga, and Ashtanga.) I don’t know about you, but I have done a LOT of chaturanga in my life. Earlier on in my yoga path I practiced Ashtanga dedicatedly for about 8 years. (Ashtanga is a vigorous, traditional yoga style which dates back to the earlier part of last century and has strongly influenced all other flow yoga styles practiced today.)
There are more than 50 chaturangas included in a typical Ashtanga class, and I practiced about 5 times a week. 50 chaturangas x 5 times a week x 52 weeks in a year x 8 years = 104,000 chaturangas during those 8 years alone. When I first did the math on this I was absolutely shocked. Who does 100,000 of anything? I’ve of course done many more chaturangas since that time to add to that already supremely high total, but at a more toned-down rate. (A typical vinyasa flow class might include 20-30 chaturangas from start to finish.)
Are you excited to calculate your own chaturanga “number” now out of yoga curiosity? :) If you do, let me know what it was!
Why do we practice chaturanga?
Chaturanga is a great way to build core and upper body strength. It also tends to appear numerous times throughout a practice to help yogis sustain a feeling of “working” or “exerting” (or sthira in Sanskrit). Chaturanga is also admittedly an integral part of yoga because that’s simply the way flow yoga is done. It’s only natural to teach what we’ve learned from our own teachers without questioning the reasoning behind it.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
We are grateful to the teachers who helped bring the transformative practice of yoga to the West in the earlier part of the 20th century. However, we know a lot more about movement, biomechanics, and health today than we did at that time. Today’s research makes it increasingly clear that variety of movement is a key to whole body health. Writes somatic movement educator Sue Hitzmann in her book The MELT Method (2013), “the primary cause of chronic and sudden chronic pain is repetitive movements and postures, not aging or muscle tension, as many people believe.”
As I mentioned in my intro to fascia blog post, keeping our body-wide web of fascia supple and hydrated is required for maintaining mobility and ease in our body as we age (and for overall optimal health in general). But repetitive movements have the unfortunate effect of dehydrating our fascia due to friction and compression, resulting in dry, brittle tissue which leaves us vulnerable to injury in our muscles and joints.
Biomechanically Cool or Not?