In my last post I focused in on the importance of alignment in Chaturanga Dandasana. In this post I am reposting information from Ray Long, MD FRCSC, a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga.
In his post, Dr. Long looks at a technique that can be learned with Chaturanga Dandasana and then transported to other poses to improve benefits and safety. He calls this technique “ease in, ease out” and it relates to how one approaches the end point of a pose.
For this cue, Dr. Long advises taking a yoga block and placing it at the level of your sternum and then lowering down to lightly touch it from plank position. Then straightening your arms to return to plank. The image that body weight practitioners use for this is “kissing the baby” because one touches the block as gently as kissing a baby on the forehead. Working in this manner teaches muscle control and sensitivity.
Those who avoid full Chaturanga due to weakness of the muscles involved can develop the strength for the full pose by starting at a wall as shown in figure 2. Here instead of the chest touching the block, bend the arms to lower towards the wall and gently touch the forehead, hold for a moment and then straighten the arms. Work in this manner until you can comfortably do ten repetitions. As strength builds, transition to a plank with the knees on the mat, lowering down to touch the block as in the final version. (Figure 3)
Working in this manner—slowing the movement as one approaches the endpoint of the pose—also sets up a cadence or rhythm. It aids to protect the joints, which have smooth curved surfaces that adapt best to gradual transitions during movement.