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How to do Chaturanga Dandasana or Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Yoga | Yoga Poses

Chaturanga Dandasana is a solid part of any yoga class, but since it's usually done as part of a flow, it can come and go so fast there is no time to even think about it. Before we know what happened, it's over and we are moving on.

But if we always just cruise through it, we might be doing it incorrectly, eventually being exposed to injuries. So sometimes it's good to hit the pause button and look at things in detail. Here are some pointers on how to do Chaturanga.

Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana

This pose builds a great deal of strength in the arms, wrists, lower and upper back as well as the abdominal muscles. The benefits of toning these muscles come back in many other yoga poses, not to mention benefitting your overall posture.

Step by Step

  1. Start by coming to a plank pose, keeping the wrists under the shoulders, and heels pushing back. Keep your core engaged.
  2. Start to roll forward with your toes, keeping your elbows tucked in close to the body. Keep going as far forward so that your arms come to a 90 degrees angle as you lower yourself towards the floor.
  3. Drop the knees down if this feels too much for the arms!
  4. Lower yourself towards the floor, keeping the elbows close to the body, and stop once your arms are at a 90 degrees angle. Stopping here requires some serious arm power!
  5. Exhale, and lower yourself with control onto your stomach, and continue onto cobra or an upward facing dog with the next inhale.

Tips and Modifications

  • Since this pose demands quite some strength from the arms, keep your knees on the floor until you have built enough strength in your arms to do the full pose.
  • Check in the mirror how your arms are doing, and where the 90 degrees angle is. Alternatively, get a yoga buddy to spot you.
  • If you have issues with your wrists, such as the carpal tunnel syndrome, or your wrists are otherwise feeling tender, avoid the pose as it places a lot of pressure on the wrist joints.
  • Keep your core engaged, and your body in one straight line throughout the pose. Especially make sure the hips are not higher than the shoulders.
  • Make sure your shoulders are not tensed towards the ears, or dropping towards the floor.
  • When you are looking for an extra challenge, you can keep one leg in the air next to your other foot when you flow in and out of the pose.

Chaturanga Dandasana is a powerful pose building strength and heat in the body. Once you break this pose down, and practice it on its own, you'll be able to take your sun salutations to the next level, and enjoy the precise movement during your flow.  And most importantly, you'll stay safe!

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