Chaturanga versus Nurture

I hate chaturanga. It is my arch nemesis, (pun not intended). To my chagrin, it features more frequently in the Primary Series than the Ring of Power in LOTR. My own source of power is not so alluring. I have the arm strength of a pre-adolescent. Two weeks in to the YTTC 200hr and I am still literally belly flopping in chaturanga.

Not for want of trying, I can assure.

I am aligned, heels over toes, legs straight,  thighs contracted, glutes pinching tighter than a crab’s pincers. My shoulders lunge forward and my hands are firmly planted, arms bent at 90°.

Still, no cigar.

The hips sink and I end up in some kind of awkward cow variation. For two weeks I practice at home, on the beach, in my bedroom. The compromise is inevitable; if I get my hips up, the chest drops. If I get my chest parallel to the floor, the hips give up the fight. I am a human see-saw.

I have watched countless demonstrations, all the instructions from the trainers at the studio. It is something of a cursed cruel slap in the face that I can switch gears from Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A to B and I am now eating headstands for breakfast (ish). Yet my jump back and upward dog have merged in to one.

Monday of week 3 and Paalu delivers check-mate: 5 rounds of Surya Namaskar A and B. I bound to my feet, hoping they won’t notice my inadequate pelvic thrust to the mat. Hope is futile.  In a room full of low level bums, the hill becomes a mountain.

Standing to attention, I prepare for corrections, resigning myself to the humble nod. From my left a gentle tone emerges and opens like a hidden casket.

“Engage your lower abs and pull them up, tucking your tailbone in when you chaturanga.”

The simplest instruction, delivered with warm and genuine empathy radiates. Is it likely I had heard this tip before? Possible. Should I have retained and actioned the information in the first instance? Arguable.

The difference between informing and teaching lies in the source of knowledge. If it is one of inspiration and positive energy, it becomes the engine in your practice.  Now, whenever I’m about to launch my feet back,  Hui Yan’s voice resounds in my head.

Sarah Yong

YTTC 200hr