Let’s think about Chataranga as a third plank pose – you’ve got plank on your hands plank on forearms and plank with bent elbows. All these planks require the same stability across the shoulders.
Plank on your hands can feel easier if you have no problems with your wrists as it requires less core work and more shoulder stability plus you have the option to bring knees to the floor without losing upper body strength.
Plank on forearms is closer to gravity so the core has to work way harder than plank on hands, though there is the option to bring knees to floor but the pubic bone is still required to draw up and in towards the naval slightly.
Plank with elbows bent otherwise known as chataranga. This is similar to forearm plank as in its closer to gravity though it’s much harder to maintain because the weight is being held by hands and balls of feet there’s no forearm to help it out.
Chataranga is often given a bad name with the belief it’s not good for shoulder joints. Though applying a stable technique when practising this pose will not cause a problem. In fact any pose not carried out with care and attention will lean into the nearest joints and expect them to do more of the work than is necessary, which can lead to discomfort or injury.
All planks require even distribution of weight. When lowering into chataranga problems can occur when we possibly –
Have the wrong hand placement for our skeletal structure
Don’t maintain shoulder stability
Lose the even weight balance
No core engagement
Rush into the pose
Our shoulders weren’t actually built to take the amount of weight we ask of them so technique really does matter when doing this pose.
Experiment with the pose. Change the placement of your hands to suit your skeletal structure. If your elbows bend out to the side and there’s discomfort to hug the elbows back, take your hands wider and explore how it feels.
Remember you’re not looking to be picture perfect!