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60 Chaturangas in Primary Series! Even More Reason To Do It Right

I have talked about chaturanga on my sister blog and why I personally don’t stack my elbows over my wrist. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at this piece by Peg Mulqueen and David Keil on Ashtanga Dispatch.


Ashtanga’s primary series has 60 low pushup positions.  SIXTY!

Its nearest competitor is the typical power yoga class which has about thirty and we go ahead and double that.  That’s just crazy business.

And the craziest thing of all is according to nearly every alignment blog and instruction I can find, we are all doing it wrong.  WRONG!  We drop too low and our elbow always ends up slightly BEHIND the wrist.

Even the Asthangis out there who ARE instructing the formation of a 90 degree angle, elbow over wrist – when I take their video practices and capture the chatwari’s frame … not so much.  Either I’m the only one who took geometry or our bodies are smarter, ignoring the thinking mind’s math.

No, I’m not going to picture any here but if you don’t believe me, go ahead and watch some Ashtanga YouTube videos and see for yourself.

Two complaints I DO hear from students are sore wrists and tight, painful traps.  One look at their chaturanga and I see … they move so far forward, the poor wrist are stressed with the bulk of their weight resting forward in the shoulder area that’s often strongest and yet SO overworked.

Not to mention, this all leads to an abysmal upward facing dog complete with pinching low back, bulging neck veins and no room to breathe.  Yikes!

Take a look at my hot mess below:



Go here for the full post and more pics and diagrams



Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail