How To Do A Yoga Push-Up

As cheesy as it is, it’s true: it’s called a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. That’s because the journey of yoga is truly a never-ending one. 

As with many experiences in life, your yoga practice likely isn’t linear. There will be times where you fall in and out of love with yoga. Times where you’re highly motivated, and also times where motivation is lacking. 

Your yoga practice will evolve alongside your lifestyle, your body’s changes, and your needs as a whole. 

As wonderful as it is to allow these changes to naturally occur, it’s also helpful to establish a sense of consistency with your yoga journey  in an effort to practice tapas (discipline) along with asana (the poses). 

Learn more about the 8 limbs of yoga HERE

While focusing only on yoga asana (yoga poses) certainly isn’t the main attraction of this ancient practice, it can honestly be just plain…fun…to create physical goals around strength and flexibility. Plus, you’ll be amazed at what your body can do when you show up to your mat daily. 

Mastering the yoga push-up is one of those movements that will contribute to increased strength which is vital for more advanced poses like arm balances, inversions, and handstands. 

While the yoga push-up is vital to understand as a building block to the more complicated poses, it’s also a movement that’s often done (and taught) incorrectly. When you practice a movement incorrectly you’re at risk for injury, or creating muscle memory that’s actually more harmful than it is helpful as you try to progress. 

This is why today’s post will outline a guide of how to do a yoga push-up correctly. Because, as teachers, it’s our job to help you avoid injury…especially when you’re on the mat!

How To Do Yoga Push-Up

We all know that yoga push-ups (otherwise known as Chaturanga), is offered multiple times in just about all Vinyasa style yoga classes. And we also know that oftentimes it’s called out without much of an explanation, because there’s an assumption that most people know what it is, and how to do it. 

Here’s the thing, there are many people, yes even students who have been practicing for years, who are doing their yoga push-ups incorrectly. This puts people at risks for injury, when they’re not practicing this movement with the proper form. 

Today’s post will deep dive into a detailed guide on how to do Chaturanga with safe alignment to protect your shoulders and low back. You’ll be building strength in no time…promise!

How To Do A Yoga Push-Up

What Are Yoga Push-Ups

Oftentimes, yoga push-ups are referred to Chatarunga in a yoga class. This is the movement of going from high plank to low plank. 

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds like a regular push-up, why don’t you just call it that?

While a yoga push-up certainly is similar to a standard push-up, there are a few key differences. 

The first one is that yoga push-ups keep the elbows hugged into the ribs, while standard push-ups allow the elbows to bend out to the sides. This leads to the second key difference, in that the yoga push-ups target the triceps, while standard push-ups target biceps. 

Look, all push-ups are great for building strength, okay? It’s not like if you practice standard push-ups your yoga practice will fall apart or anything. 

However, when you incorporate more Chaturangas into your practice, then you can be sure to have a strong foundation to build upon as (structurally speaking) yoga push-ups are exact building blocks needed for arm balances, headstand variations, and even backbends that you can progress to down the line. 

Yoga Push-Ups Benefits

As you can imagine, there are plenty of benefits to yoga push-ups. Let’s get into some of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of this movement, shall we?

Upper Body Strength 

Notably, the first most obvious benefit of Chaturanga is that this movements builds upper body strength like no other. Don’t worry, you can always modify with knees on the ground, or with yoga blocks if your upper body strength isn’t ready for the fullest variation. 

Core Engagement

In order to stay in a straight, strong line, you need to make sure you have deep core engagement. I’m not just talking about sucking in your low belly, I’m talking about the same compression you feel in cat pose with the curl of your pelvis up and in to draw the lower belly back to the spine.

Long Spine

You know we love a long spine in yoga, and Chaturanga is no exception to this. Rather than letting everything sag and crunch in order to press yourself up and down, maintain a straight strong spine as throughout.

Improves Arm Balances

Yoga push-ups are the building blocks to arm balances. Period. Your arm balance practice will change tenfold as soon as you conquer the correct alignment with your yoga push-up, I swear. 

Improves Inversions

Similar to arm balances, your inversions will also improve alongside your yoga push-up progress. These are especially helpful for Tripod Headstand, Pincha, and Chin Stand.

Increased Focus

Here’s the thing, there’s a lot going on when you practice Chaturanga correctly. When you’re focusing on really specific activations in the entire body all at once, your focus inevitably improves. 

Increased Confidence 

Yoga push-ups are perfect for the Solar Plexus Chakra, as these strong movements help to build inner heat, strength, and confidence. Building external strength within the body is a great way to build internal strength within. 

Increase Sense Of Worth

As your confidence grows alongside your strength, oftentimes your self-worth improves, as well. There’s something to be said for feeling incredibly capable in your body, which is both gratifying and empowering all at once. 

How To Do Chaturanga

I’m going to break down how the heck to do Chaturanga correctly with detail and simplicity, alike. I’ll make sure to include some of my favorite cues that I’d use in a class or workshop for arm balances and inversions so that you get the clearest understanding possible. 

Step 1: Table Top

Inhale, Table Top on all fours with your hands under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Take a peek back to make sure your feet disappear behind your knees, then tuck your toes underneath you.

Exhale, draw your low belly with an ever so slight Cat curl of the pelvis. Continue to extend the tailbone back behind you. 

How To Do A Yoga Push-Up

Step 2: High Plank

Inhale, High Plank by lifting your knees off the ground and extending your legs straight. Keep your hands at shoulder width distance, and your feet no wider than your hips. 

Exhale, exaggerate your Cat curl so that your shoulder blades start to spread up and back behind you as your hips scoop inwards. Squeeze your glutes, and press back through your heels to activate your low body.

How To Do A Yoga Push-Up

Step 3: Option To Modify 

If this feels like too much on your wrists or your arms, then simply lower your knees down from the High Plank position. 

Inhale, make sure you’re still pressing the ground away from you in your modified version, and the shoulders are still doming skyward. 

Exhale, peek at your knees to ensure they’re behind your hips, rather than stacked underneath them like Table Top. Keep squeezing your glutes as much as you press down through all 10 fingers. 

How To Do A Yoga Push-Up

Step 4: Low Plank

Whether you’re in High Plank of the modified version, the motion of lowering to Low Plank will be the same. 

Inhale, use the breath in to press the ground away from you as you shift your shoulders over your wrists. This is important in protecting your shoulder head from injury. 

Exhale, Low Plank by lowering halfway down while maintaining one long, strong line with the body. Make sure your elbows are hugging into your ribcage, and your shoulders don’s dip lower than the bend of your elbows. 

Keep breathing as you refine here. 

Avoid dropping the shoulder heads lower than a 90 degree bend from the elbows. This can cause strain or injury to the shoulder heads. If you notice your back starts to sway so that you can hold yourself up, then lower your knees down for more support in the modified version. 

Most importantly, remember you can always breathe where you land. 



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