Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Low Plank) is one of the most challenging yoga poses done in every vinyasa and Sun Salutation often rushed through and done incorrectly. When done correctly, this challenging yoga pose has several benefits, including arm, wrist and abdomen strengthening. When practiced without proper alignment, Chaturanga can lead to shoulder, elbow, wrist and even lower back injuries.
Because Chaturanga Dandasana is a weight-bearing pose, wrist injuries are among the most common. Sometimes in yoga, we tend to use our strongest muscles to achieve difficult poses, instead of using the appropriate muscles. While in Chaturanga, many yoga students flatten their carpal tunnel, the narrow, tunnel-like structure in the wrist where several tendons and the median nerve pass, causing compression on the median nerve. Repetitive practice of this incorrect motion can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chaturanga is a pose that uses all of the muscles in the body. To keep your body safe from injury, use your core for stabilization and activate your legs for support. While learning proper alignment and building strength,modify this pose by dropping to your knees (This decreases the weight on your back and shoulders, therefore you don’t need as much strength to do the pose as with your legs straight).
Here are some tips for a safe Chaturanga Dandasana:
Hopefully, this information will help you with your Chaturanga and keep you injury free. Remember that you can always modify the pose or skip it altogether.
Yoga offers many benefits, from reduced stress to improved strength and flexibility. But it can also be intimidating to some people. You may not be able to keep up with the pace in a yoga class, or have physical limitations that prevent you from easily moving from the floor to standing poses for a full hour. Seated floor yoga, is a gentle style of yoga that incorporates the breathing and mind-body benefits of a traditional class.
This is a slow, gentle and restorative yoga practice of floor stretches and seated poses perfect for beginners, those recuperating from illness or those who just want to take it easy. Use this yoga sequence on days when you need some stress relief. If you choose to practice with props, use a yoga block and belt.
*Before you begin any new physical activity, you should consult with your healthcare provider. These poses are suitable for most people, including seniors and people living with chronic pain.
Although yoga may seem like a peaceful and calm exercise with the aim to heal and nourish the body, injuries still occur. Here are the 4 most common yoga injuries, and some useful tips on how to prevent them.
Hamstring injury and sits bone pain
This type of pain may feel like a dull and stiff sensation in the back of the legs, or a sharp pain where the hamstrings attach to the sitting bones. Since this injury is common among all kinds of practitioners, from beginners to advanced students, it is still unknown from where in the practice this injury is caused, but not unlikely it has something to do with forward folding. Pressing your body into forward folds, and hanging out your hamstrings may be a reason for damage over time, and it is easier than you think to do this, especially when your body becomes more flexible.
Chaturanga: Moving from plank to upward dog is one of the most common transitions done in yoga. Even though this can be a great strengthener for the shoulders and the shoulder girdle, it may also be a devastating exercise for the shoulders and the upper back when done with wrong technique. Too much pressure on the shoulder joint may result in lack of stability in the joint, and thus cause pain. To use a right technique in every pose when you put pressure on your shoulders, double check your hand placement in chaturanga to make sure your shoulders are straight over your wrists. Never let the shoulders raise towards your ears in up dog, this will take the weight from your supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders and neck and put too much pressure in the joint. Also pay attention not to overstretch the shoulders in downward facing dog.
Pain in and around the knees that evolves over time is very common among yoga practitioners. Knee pain may arise from an injury in the meniscus or a torn or overstretched ligament. Knee pain is a severe injury and should always be taken care of. After an injury of the meniscus, the risk of getting arthritis later in life is much higher.
Many yoga poses require a lot of flexibility in the hip joint, if this is not the case, and you still want to fit your body into a certain pose, pressure tends to affect the knee joint in first since this is a much weaker joint than the hip. Be careful with your knees; never allow any sensation in the knees in your practice, any pain in the knee is a sign to back off from the pose causing the pain. Never lock the joints, micro bend the joint and stabilize it by engaging more muscles, this will help build more strength over time.
The neck is a delicate structure, designed to hold up the weight of your head, but not balance on it. Tension in the shoulders, back and upper body have a tendency to manifest as pain in the neck. In poses where you put pressure directly on the neck like shoulder stand or headstand, it is of great importance you build up strength over time before doing the full expression of these poses. Make sure you do these poses with the correct technique; ask a yoga teacher if you are uncertain.
Useful tips to avoid injury
Always be aware of sensations in your body, and know the good sensations from the bad. Sharp burning sensations, as well as, sensations from the joints are signs to back off!
Don’t let your ego get in the way. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body as opposed to comparing it to someone else’s. Don’t push yourself!
Move in and out of poses with control and awareness.
Modify poses if you need to, make the asana fits your body instead of making your body fit the asana. Ask a yoga teacher if you need to find modifications.
One final note: Take a few days to rest and recuperate from the injury. Always seek the advice of a doctor if you continue to have pain. Take your time and rest when needed. There is no destiny to reach!
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