So Many Chaturangas! Ultimate Guide to Help You Modify

In an average Vinyasa class, you will do more than a dozen Chaturangas, sometimes more. If you do an Ashtanga session, you will complete more than 80! But, they happen so quickly that the teacher doesn’t usually explain the proper form or modifications that can be used. Since all those Chaturangas can eventually lead to injury (mainly a rotator cuff injury) if not done properly, I have made this guide to help you modify this pose. Also included is what good form looks like and how to make Chaturanagas more challenging if you want to take it up a notch.

Chaturangas are hard! Check out this guide for the do's and font's, as well as modifications and challenging versions.

Do

  • Modify if you need to! Don’t feel embarrassed. Chaturangas are hard and no one is going to notice that you are modifying. It’s not worth an injury.
  • Engage your core muscles. Try to pull your lower ribs in.
  • Roll forward onto your toes. This will help your elbows get to a 90-degree angle as you lower.
  • Hug your elbows into your sides.
  • Practice in front of a mirror or a friend sometimes to see if you have proper form.
  • Try placing a block under each shoulder to keep you from lowering too much.

Don’t

  • Lower your shoulders too far.Chaturanga Dandasana, a very popular pose, that is hard to do right and can easily lead to injury.
  • Lift your hips too high.Chaturanga Dandasana, a very popular pose, that is hard to do right and can easily lead to injury.
  • Let your stomach sag.Chaturanga Dandasana, a very popular pose, that is hard to do right and can easily lead to injury.

How To Modify Chaturangas

There are many contraindications (including pregnancy) for yoga poses, which is why consulting your doctor before practicing yoga is essential. You should also have a certified yoga teacher to learn and practice under. 

If you can’t have proper form (see below), you will want to modify to avoid injury.

Chaturanga Dandasana, a very popular pose, that is hard to do right and can easily lead to injury.

The easiest and best way to modify a Chaturanga is to bring your knees down to the ground before lowering. If you feel like this is getting too easy, but you aren’t ready for the full version yet, try having one knee down and lifting the other leg off the ground a few inches, extending it straight behind you. If you do the one-legged version, make sure you alternate legs so you don’t build up imbalances in your body.

How To Intensify Chaturangas

If you have built up a lot of strength and want to take a Chaturanga to the next level, try the following:

  • From the traditional Chaturanga Pose lift one leg off the ground a few inches. Remember to alternate sides.
  • Try rolling over your toes instead of flipping them one at a time when transitioning to Upward Facing Dog.


When I first started doing yoga, I couldn’t do one Chaturanga without modifying with my knees. With dedication, I built up my yoga practice and strength. Eventually, I got to a daily yoga practice and could do over 80 unmodified Chaturangas in my Ashtanga classes. If you want to learn how I increased my practice without injury, check out Increasing Your Yoga Practice.

Namaste,

Abby

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Abby is a teacher (RYT 200) and student of yoga, passionate about her yoga journey and helping others on theirs. She is the blogger behind Journeys of Yoga, and a second-grade teacher. Learn more about Abby. You can also contact her here.