Have you ever ever heard the phrase, “Take Chaturagana or Knees-Chest-Chin” in yoga class?
Many academics use this cue as a well-intentioned different to Chaturanga or 4-Limbed Employees Pose. Nevertheless, in my thoughts, it’s the equal of a instructor providing the choice of “Take Warrior III or Triangle Pose.” As a result of past the truth that Chaturanga and Knees-Chest-Chin (KCC) take you from the next to a decrease place, these are basically completely different poses.
Let’s begin with Chaturanga
Chaturanga is a difficult pose. It requires you to maintain a 90-degree bend in your elbows and decrease your physique with management with out collapsing ahead within the shoulders, winging your elbows out vast, going hyper-speed, or dropping management of your core. For those who can’t do that, then decreasing the load you’re balancing by coming to your knees is a fairly good thought!
However find out how to finest do this? Take a look at what I’m doing within the photograph above. It is a modified Chaturanga. It includes taking your knees to the mat. However on this variation, you preserve nearly the identical angle of your higher physique so it’s the very same depth and form as Chaturanga, engages the identical muscle teams, however places much less stress in your wrists, shoulders, and core.
In truth, I’d suggest all practitioners do that as a prep pose slightly than racing into Chaturanga the primary few instances every class. For those who’re modifying Chaturanga as a part of a vinyasa movement right into a backbend, the following step can be to decrease your hips to the mat, carry your knees, and draw your chest ahead to Bhujangasana (low or excessive Cobra).
However wait. What about Knees-Chest-Chin?
Knees-Chest-Chin is if you begin in Plank, decrease your knees to the mat, after which drop your chest in addition to your chin to the mat whereas your rear continues to be within the air. Then you definately slide by means of to Cobra or one other low backbend. Some academics assert that KCC is a viable different for college students who, for no matter motive, aren’t fairly prepared for Chaturanga.
Like Knees-Chest-Chin, it lowers the knees and relieves weight. Some—myself included—argue that along with not being a helpful approach to construct energy for full Chaturanga, this posture could possibly be probably injurious as a consequence of forceful lumbar and thoracic compression, in addition to shoulder impingement.
Security apart, is KCC going that can assist you construct the approach and energy required for Chaturanga? I don’t assume so. Let’s take an sudden detour to the weightlifting group for inspiration. It is a group of people that prioritize secure alignment and type over how a lot weight they’re lifting. If an individual can’t carry 300 kilos in a bench press, they don’t do a distinct train like a bicep curl as an alternative, nor do they maintain making an attempt the identical weight with improper type, risking dropping a bar on their face. As a substitute, they scale back the load and repeat the identical form in an effort to construct approach and energy with out the danger of harm.
We are able to be taught from that conduct. If we can’t observe the fullest expression of a pose safely, we have to observe a lower-intensity model that also permits us to refine the talent and construct the required openness or energy—not simply in relation to Chaturanga, however in each asana.
These of us who’ve a need to discover arm balances would profit from extra time spent doing the very boring-looking pose within the picture. Most arm balances are basically one thing advanced added on high of Chaturanga, so it is sensible to spend time training holding Chaturanga at varied ranges of depth. Maybe you start with modified Chaturanga, then work as much as full Chaturanga, and ultimately come into Eka Pada Koundinyasa I (Hurdler’s Pose).
As academics, maybe we begin to be somewhat extra inventive in how we help college students in constructing approach and energy. In preparation for Hurdler’s Pose, have you ever ever tried Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) with Chaturanga arms? And even simply Chaturanga arms in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)? Give it some thought.
In fact, as college students, we aren’t obliged to construct energy. However as a part of our journey towards stability, an equilibrium between flexibility and energy is as aspirational to work towards as balancing the bodily and psychological facets of our observe. Maybe we will start to look extra intently at our college students’ wants, wherever they’re at, and provide a extra refined set of choices for a specific yoga pose.
About our contributor
Adam Husler has taught his signature fashion of alignment-focused yoga at courses, trainings, and conferences in 20-plus nations. Fueled by a fascination with anatomy and a need to ask “why,” Adam presents inventive, efficient, and clearly sequenced teachings that target balancing flexibility and energy, bodily and psychological. Adam presents mentorships and trainings to certified yoga academics from his London base; is a member of Jason Crandell’s instructing college; and co-hosts the Actually Unbalanced podcast by having open conversations with individuals who’ve spent their lives making an attempt to enhance yours.