If you practice vinyasa flow yoga, the reality is you’re going to spend a lot of time bearing weight on the delicate structures of your hands and wrists. The problem is that this is not their intended function. For example, when was the last time, save a social media campaign, you walked to the grocery store on your hands? As the action of weight bearing through the hands is a bit unnatural, it can potentially introduce discomfort, pain, and even injury into your yoga practice.
Am I full of it?
I love Sun Salutations. I love doing them exactly the same way every day. I don’t need to be creative with them. But why is this? When asked about keeping up a yoga practice, I often say “consistency is what really matters. don’t worry about duration or intensity, just do something every day.” When asked about sequencing one’s practice for home or a classroom environment, I’ll defend the power of simple movements repeated several times with breath taught over many classes over complicated choreography that’s shifting and changing from one moment to the next and never repeated again from one class to another. If asked why, I’ll say “repetition of simple movements with breath is what will help the nervous system and mind relax, too much new and complicated will just stimulate and potentially lead to new stress.” I say these things, know them intuitively to be true, but beyond tradition (yoga sutras definitely emphasize repetition and consistency, and the movements of sun salutes are very much present in Eastern prayer tradition) really haven’t had much to back it up. But I think I’m beginning to get a clearer picture.
Chaturanga Dandasana is hugely common in vinyasa flow classes and often vilified or blamed for all sorts of injuries. Some of that may be true, especially if done quickly, forcefully, and without any concern for alignment. I prefer to think positively about what chaturanga delivers, although extolling its virtues may fall on deaf ears and tired arms. With sincerity, I believe it is an efficient and effective transition from plank into upward-facing dog, priming the strength of the arms and shoulders to deliver the backbend energetically as well as giving an opportunity for rhythmic breath and movement.