Oh, the elusive four-limbed staff pose.
By Sarah Court, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher & Trainer
One of the most common misalignments in the yoga pose Chaturanga Dandasana is a lack of engagement of the serratus anterior muscle. What on earth does that mean, right?
Let’s break it down:
The serratus anterior is a muscle that is found right below your armpit, and it attaches both to your ribs (the attachments look like a serrated blade, hence the name) and also to the medial or inside edge of the scapula, or shoulder blade. So the serratus is responsible for keeping that inside edge of the scapula flat against your back as you bend your elbows in Chaturanga. When the serratus is weak, it can’t hold the scapula down, and the result is that ‘winged scapula’ that we see so often as students flow through their vinyasa (full disclosure: I used to be a winger!).
Below is a video clip of the Yoga Tune Up® pose Mega Plank, which is a great way to learn how to find and engage that serratus anterior, so that when you go to do your Chaturanga in class, you’ll keep your scapula right where they should be. As you come into Mega Plank, press your forearms into the floor so the scapula move apart, and then pull backwards with your hands and you’ll feel those serrated fingers of the serratus grip your ribs! Take a look at the video below and try out one of my favorite ways to prep for Chaturanga Dandasana.
Sarah Court is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, also trained in Anusara and Jivamukti Yoga, who draws from all of these styles in her teaching. She teaches weekly Yoga Tune Up® and Vinyasa classes at various locations in Los Angeles, and trains yoga teachers in anatomy and in Yoga Tune Up® across the country. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or learn more at her full website.
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most helpful thing I’ve read all week.
When I first started yoga, the serratus was the first muscle I noticed develop. It was very cool to feel this muscle development. Lately I’ve had to stay away from Chaturanga because of tennis elbow, and it has gotten flabby! Hope to get back into shape soon.
Wow – this is seriously so helpful! It’s these minor tweaks in form that can really make or break a practice!
Knees chest chin is a great way to build the muscles to get into chaturanga dandasana. Check out two different ways for knees chest chin from my teachers in yoga teacher training at Soul at Home in Tustin, CA.
Thanks, I hope this will help save my shoulders – chatturanga really hurts!