Chaturanga Flow – Floor-based Variations



The most common repeated sequence in vinyasa yoga classes is the four-part Chaturanga flow. In this part of class many teachers streamline their guiding language to “take your vinyasa.” Injuries in our bodies come from moving in ways not safe for our joints and ligaments repeatedly. Since this is a series repeated often, let’s begin by highlighting some safe variations for Chaturanga flow. When a teacher says “Honor your body.” refer to these options in the video below for this series and choose some that work for your shoulders, wrists, hips, back etc on that day, in that class, during that hour, in that particular Chaturanga flow.

Chaturanga Floor Options:

You can do the flow on your knees, flow through tabletop, lower all the way to the floor and choose between low cobra or upward facing dog, or even keep one leg lifted as you lower half way to low plank or Chaturanga Dhandasana. (We will look at options for using a chair or the wall in a future Yoga Evangelist lesson.)

There are some important factors to keeping your arm joints and back safe during this vinyasa yoga flow:

Tips for Safely Flowing:

  • Try to keep your elbows pointed straight back behind you as you hinge at the elbow, not hugging in too closely and not winging out too widely.
  • Broaden your pectorals as if you were spreading your collarbones away from each other
  • Tuck your tailbone to lengthen your low back
  • Utilize the back muscles of your body (back torso, shoulder blades, triceps, hamstrings, and calves) with equal effort as the front
  • Stack your elbows above your wrists
  • Continue to reach through the heels, sternum, and crown of the head as you breathe
  • When lowering to Chaturanga Dhandasana, move your shoulders forward past the crease of your wrists, rolling forward on your toes before lowering

Avoid Injury with these Tips:

  • Avoid sticking your butt up
  • Try not to lett your center sag
  • Keep from letting your shoulders collapse any lower than your elbows
  • To maintain shoulder joint stability in chaturanga, the front of the shoulders should point either forward or up, not down

For the breathwork flow of the series:


  • High Plank
  • Low Cobra or Cobra
  • Upward Facing Dog


  • Low Plank or Chaturanga Dhandasana
  • Down Dog

Let go of the desire for outcomes and focus on the present moment instead. The essence of Chaturanga is demonstrated in your ability to flow with all of life’s challenges, both on and off the mat. May you find some wisdom in this video and future Yoga Evangelist videos. If you’d like a specific topic covered, or would like to be in a video, please email me:

Thank you Blue Sky Yoga StL for the use of your beautiful studio for this first of many educational videos.
Thank you Emily Ward for helping me shoot it. Thank you RJ Hartbeck for the photos at Koken Art Factory.

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