Four Limbed Staff Pose  -Chaturanga Dandasana

Step by step

  • Starting from Plank Pose, firm your shoulder blades flat on your back and make your back muscles strong. Draw lower belly towards your spine and think about your tailbone pointing toward your feet. 
  • Rock slightly forward, over the toes, so you are projecting your body forward.
  • Look slightly ahead of you to keep the neck long. 
  • On an out-breath, lower the whole body like a plank only so far, that the upper arms stay parallel to the floor and that there is a 90° angle in your elbows. Keep the elbows close to the ribs pointing back the whole time.
  • Make sure the chest and shoulders don't dip lower than the elbows. Lift the front of the shoulders away from the floor the whole time.
  • This pose is usually a transition between other poses as in Sun Salutations or Vinyasas. You can also practise it by itself and hold it for between 10 to 30 seconds.
  • On an inhale transition into Upward facing dog pose. If you can keep your lower back from collapsing, you can also push back up to Plank pose on an out-breath.

Beginners tips

  • To build strength in your upper body and core, start by practising holding Planks and Forearm Planks for up to a minute.
  • You can also lower your knees first from Plank pose and then bend the elbows to come into a baby Chaturanga, keeping a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Or substitute Chaturanga with Knees-chest-chin / Ashtanga Namaskara: From Plank pose lower your knees, keep your core engaged and move your chest and chin towards the floor. Keep your shoulders up away from the floor and keep your chest open. 

Benefits

Watch out for

  • This is a strong pose which is repeated many times per class in some styles of yoga like Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow. It is important to get your technique right to avoid shoulder injuries. Read Jennilee Toner's article on injury prevention for more about safe alignment in Chaturanga: Joint Integration - preventing yoga injuries

Variations

  • As an alternative to Chaturanga you can either use Ashtanga Namaskara / Knees Chest Chin or Chaturanga with your knees down (see Beginners tips)
  • For an extra challenge in Chaturanga, try lowering down from Plank with only one foot on the floor, the other leg raised parallel to the floor.
  • Add knee taps, if you are stable in the pose bring your right knee towards your right elbow. Then repeat on your left side.
  • Make sure your shoulders stay lifted above elbow height as you add in the extra challenges.