In our asana practice, one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves is working with and not against the naturally occurring alignment within our bodies. Acknowledging and honoring our innate anatomical structure is the best way to ensure a practice that lasts a lifetime - cultivating peace of mind and preserving the integrity of our bones, joints, muscles and tissues.
Tabletop or Chatushpadasana is a fantastic place to establish and then allow muscle memory to strengthen correct alignment that will carry you through many other fundamental postures that build on these foundations. Kneeling asanas improve postural inconsistencies, increase vitality and mobility in the legs, knees, glutes, core, spine, arms and shoulders. These series of postures work to improve circulation, stimulate digestion and support the foundation of one’s practice, building from the ground, up.
In Chatushpadasana, consider the qualities that support a strong and sturdy table. From all fours, spread your fingers wide and stack your wrists under your elbows and then under your shoulders. Taking a peak back, make sure your hips are in line over your knees. Imagine a sensation of elongating the spine in two opposite directions: the tailbone reaching back behind you and the crown of your head reaching beyond you, keeping the back of your neck long and drawing your shoulders away from your ears. Draw your navel in towards your spine, engaging your abdominals, and keep your arms lengthened, pressing away from the Earth. Stabilize your shoulders by externally rotating them and feel them broaden across your back. Feel free to use a blanket or a mat with any knee sensitivities!
In observing the pictures below: in the first, note improper and unsafe alignment. Slouching between the shoulders, which are shifted too far forward beyond the wrists. In the second picture is an example of safe and proper alignment, bones and joints stacked neatly and length and engagement supporting the spine.
Finding your proper alignment in Chatushpadasana will serve you greatly in your exploration of future postures and elements within your practice!