HOW TO PRACTICE Four-Limbed Staff Pose IN YOGA (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) is one of yoga’s more challenging postures. It requires sufficient strength in the arms, legs and core to support the weight of the body being slowly lowered toward the floor in a horizontal plane against the pull of gravity.
Although it’s a staple of many flow classes, the mechanics of this yoga pose make it particularly risky for practitioners who lack both the foundation and understanding of the asana, especially when making transitions to and from Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). The great range-of-motion and relatively shallow depth in the shoulder joint makes it both one of the most versatile and also unstable joints in the body. Be patient in approaching this yoga posture and take care of your shoulders!
While learning the basics and developing the strength for Chaturanga, it’s a good idea to practice it as a standalone pose before attempting to incorporate it into a flow sequence. You should be able to maintain shoulder stability throughout the yoga pose before adding it to your flow. One of the beauties of taking the time to build toward Chaturanga is that the modifications and preparatory steps will net the same strengthening benefits as the full asana.
Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga Dandasana is a powerhouse yoga pose that develops strength in many areas of the body. If done correctly, you will strengthen: your core muscles, including the obliques; the biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pecs; and the gluteal muscles and adductors. Chaturanga also strengthens and stretches the wrists.
The requirement to hold the plank-like position with full core engagement will improve spinal stability and posture. As a weight-bearing yoga pose, Chaturanga may be helpful in maintaining bone density. Chaturanga will also expand the front of the chest and collar bones.
As in all challenging postures, practicing Chaturanga with full awareness and breath control will help develop inner focus and discipline, making it well worth the effort to learn!
Basic Four-Limbed Staff Pose
To set yourself up for success in this yoga pose, follow along with the steps below. Make sure that you’re decently warmed up before going straight into this asana.
- Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with two yoga blocks set up 1 to 2 inches in front of your fingers. The blocks should be in their highest position.
- Inhale as you move forward into Phalakasana (Plank Pose) with your arms straight and your shoulders directly over your wrists.
- Exhale, bend your elbows and begin to lower your body. Tap your shoulders lightly onto the blocks. This will bring your into a well-aligned shoulder-to-elbow height.
- Make sure your tailbone is drawing down toward your heels and your abdomen is engaged.
- Inhale, move into Upward Facing Dog.
- Exhale, move back to Downward Facing Dog.