In my professional opinion, the common vinyasa transition of Chaturanga to Upward Dog can mangle your shoulder joints.
- Regardless of form, lot of yogis do them way too fast
- Repetition! There’s often at least 10 and up to 30 in your average vinyasa class
- Form (even the best form is sub-optimal to repetitively do for your shoulder joint):
- The position of your elbows closer into your torso requires more core strength than your elbows wide. A lot of people don’t have the amount of core strength to sustain the pose, let alone do it over 10x
- People dipping too low by lowering their chest lower than their elbows
- Hinging forward puts excessive end-range stress into your wrist joint!
- Upward Dog compresses the shoulder joint and the Axilla (armpit). Repetitive compression of these spaces isn’t great for the soft tissue structures like your nerves, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and tendons
I’d like to take a moment to note that I’m biased against Chaturangas. My shoulders used to hurt so much after taking a vinyasa yoga class and it wasn’t until I started skipping Chata’s did they begin to feel better and more importantly stay healthy. In my opinion, Chaturangas are shitty junk-food movement.
Sure, you can do them and that’s awesome that you did the 30 throughout class today, but what was the intention behind that transition? Where’s the substancein all that repetitive movement?
Take a moment to think about it: there’s really not much substance to a Chata. Given the position of your arms, you likely didn’t increase the strength of your muscles a whole lot and instead just repetitively loaded your wrist and shoulder joints. Yoga asana is meant to alleviate tension, not create it! So good for you for doing them all, you’re now a little bit closer to a painful shoulder/wrist.
I don’t teach Chata’s anymore (for all the bulleted reasons above). A lot of other anatomy based teachers I know also agree that they shred shoulders more than strengthen them. There are much safer and way more challenging ways to transition yourself back to Downward Facing Dog.
I know I speak pretty ill of Chaturangas, but on a final note: You can keep doing them and still be fine, the last thing I ever want to do is instill a fear of movement in your practice. All I ask is that you please take the time to prep for it, don’t do it all the time, and be aware of how many times you’re doing it in a yoga class. Practice moderation, Brahmacharya, with Chata’s.