Chathuranga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Stick Pose?!)- a staple of American Yoga.
In vinyasa classes all across the country, countless iterations of “high to low plank” are unfolding. In general, this is probably great news. However, there are surely some statistics to demonstrate at least some kind of measurable effect from all of these repetitions.
According to the ____, and certainly by my accounts as well, all this “Chathuranga” business is causing some injuries among the growing number of Americans attending yoga classes. Repetitive movements and stress on troublesome joints seem to be the most common culprits cited by the ____ percent of people who report having been injured as a result of their yoga practice.
While some people (high Pitta, anyone!?) truly thrive on the ecstatic and empowering action of holding (as well as flowing to, or through,) Chathuranga Dandasana, many Bodies simply don’t need that type of work. Indeed for those among the statistic, it has ultimately proven harmful.
Sometimes we allow the will of the Sangha to string us along. There are certainly instances when it helps to utilize that group energy to inspire and motivate our practice, but it’s useful to remember that Practice is about opportunity rather than obligation.
The “Chathuranga” flow in vinyasa class reminds me of the bottomless baskets of chips and salsa you sometimes get at a Mexican restaurant. You can eat to your Heart’s content, yet still more and more will keep coming. If you have a delicious entree in the kitchen though, you might not want to fill up on just chips and salsa.
I often find that during power-flow classes, even something basic such as a Corepower C1 class, I will politely decline some of the early refill offers on my chip-basket.
As I’m eating the main course, however, I will delightedly dip several chips at once and savor the crunch and the spice (if the salsa is sufficiently bold, that is!).
The unlimited-chips offer isn’t going to be rescinded if we don’t eat enough chips.
It isn’t a limited-time offer.
Chathuranga Dandasana isn’t going to vanish from Reality just because we decide to not play it on a loop.
Even if we’ve been modifying to the most gentle variation we can find, it’s fine to let a “Chathuranga” pass by; it might even feel sublime and divine.
If only once-in-a-while, enjoy the act of not-pushing, of not-racing.
When you partake of the Chathuranga Dandasana, be fully present and committed to it. If we’re careless with alignment and technique, it’s just as well to lay off.
Chathuranga on purpose, with Intention.
Or skip it, with that same purpose and Intention.
It comes back to the familiar refrain we’ve all heard, and many of us have said- “listen to your Body.”
When the Body is not craving chips, don’t eat chips. If the crunch of those tasty triangles is calling, then eat ’em all up!