One of the most common misalignments in the yoga pose Chatturanga Dandasana is a lack of engagement of the serratus anterior muscle. What on earth does that mean, right? Let’s break it down:

The serratus anterior is a muscle that is found right below your armpit, and it attaches both to your ribs (the attachments look like a serrated blade, hence the name) and also to the medial or inside edge of the scapula, or shoulderblade. So the serratus is responsible for keeping that inside edge of the scapula flat against your back as you bend your elbows in Chatturanga. When the serratus is weak, it can’t hold the scapula down, and the result is that ‘winged scapula’ that we see so often as students flow through their vinyasa (full disclosure: I used to be a winger!).

Below is a video clip of the Yoga Tune Up® pose Mega Plank, which is a great way to learn how to find and engage that serratus anterior, so that when you go to do your Chatturanga in class, you’ll keep your scapula right where they should be. As you come into Mega Plank, press your forearms into the floor so the scapula move apart, and then pull backwards with your hands and you’ll feel those serrated fingers of the serratus grip your ribs!

The pose is also part of the Yoga Tune Up® 10 Minute Quick Fix for Lower Back video available here.

Read about making your posture perfect.

Watch our video for lower back pain relief.

Learn about our Therapy Balls Program for your lower back.

Sarah Court

Sarah Court is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, and the creator of Quantum Leap. She teaches public workshops, anatomy for yoga teacher trainings, and trains Yoga Tune Up® teachers worldwide. She developed and teaches her Quantum Leap continuing education program to make sophisticated movement science easy for movement teachers to understand and apply to their teaching. Sarah received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount St. Mary’s University. She brings significant clinical experience to her teaching, attracting clients and students with a desire to move intelligently, regain mobility, or manage chronic conditions. Sarah is an award-winning graduate of Princeton University, and edited the Yoga Tune Up® blog for 5 years. She has been featured on and The New York Times. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or go to her full website.

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Evelyne Linder

Mandatory awareness exercise in any flow class! Thanks for the reminder.

Lauren Reese

Great cues for serratus activation!!! Every student practicing chattarunga needs this cue!!

Alison Pignolet

I remember being told to make a river valley between my shoulder blades before I came into chatturanga 🙂 So glad I am now a student of my own body.