I have no idea how I did my chaturanga in my early days with yoga. Like any other newbie, I was probably dumping my torso on the ground without actually using my arms or engaging my core. I was intrigued when the teachers demonstrated it, they would hover mid-air and then push up their torso with ease. For a certain length of time I followed the instructions of knees down, chest down, elbows close to the ribs, lower down with control.
I started watching videos breaking down the pose. I discovered that you pushed forward your body with your toes to get the 90 degree elbow bent angle instead of bending your elbows from high plank to low plank. That was my chaturunga for a while until I hurt my left shoulder so that I had to do the knees down, chest down option. After my shoulder got better, I went back to pushing my torso forward but I still needed to lower my entire chest down before I can push up to cobra or up dog. I tried to hover and push up but at the last second I would put my knees down to compensate, I always felt like my upper body was too heavy for my shoulders. I was stuck with that for a long time.
Then last week, I think I copied the person in front of me. I stiffened my arms, made my elbows graze my upper ribs. I suddenly found myself pushing up to upward facing dog. It was my light bulb moment! I did that a few times in several classes. I fumbled sometimes and when I was too tired I would go back to the easy option. Last night was a really sweaty power yoga class, I managed to hover in all of my chaturunga. Need to observe further if this is a sustainable option for me. Also I wonder if I am hunching my shoulders?
There is still the curling of toes that eludes me. I still have to flip my feet from up dog to down dog. I don’t think my toes are ready for that challenge. For the past few months I thought that I was already at the peak of what I was capable with my yoga asanas. It seems that I am wrong, my body is still changing, my mind is still learning. There are still things to look forward to! The journey continues.