11 December 2009
Chaturanga Dandasana can be a very strong pose for some people and is often practised in a way that is quite tough on the shoulders. I have noticed in some of my classes that there is a tendency for some students to come from plank pose into chaturanga and lift the backside, causing the shoulders to drop forwards towards the floor. I am not sure if this is a particular style that is being introduced by some teachers or if the momentum caused by this “sweeping action” makes the pose feel easier for some people.
What I do know is I am seeing more shoulder injuries as a result of the repetition of this particular style. When the backside is lifted in this way, it is quite difficult to engage bandhas and use your core belly strength, thus increasing the risk to the lower back. With the shoulders in this position, there is a greater risk of impingement of the rotator cuff tendons, leading to tendonopathy and pain.
In my opinion, it is better to drop the knees to the floor if you do not have the strength in the shoulders and triceps, or alternate the full pose with this variation whist you gain strength. If you have developed shoulder pain and you practice chaturanga on a regular basis, get your teacher to look at your technique as this may be the reason.