Also known as the Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Four Pointed Staff Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana is a pose that is commonly used in your practice. When you first start to practice you might feel like this position is kind of impossible. If you don’t have a lot of upper body strength you might tend to bellyflop to the ground. Chaturanga Dandasana helps you build up strength from whatever level you’re at in the moment. As you practice this pose you’ll develop more strength, bodily intelligence, aliveness, and awareness.
To understand this posture think about the staff position. Your body represents a staff. From the head down to the feet, your body is knit together and making a straight line. The four points are where your body connects with the floor through the hands and feet.
The easiest way to practice Chaturanga initially is to lie on your stomach. So let’s start out by finding the position of the pose while laying down on the floor.
Laying on your stomach curl your toes under and lift your kneecaps off the floor.
Take your hands to your hips and rotate your tailbone under. Squeeze your glutes slightly and lift the muscles of the lower abdomen by sucking them in.
Firm the muscles of your lower ribs. Place your hands on the floor so they are aligned with your lower ribs.
Draw your shoulder blades down the back but do not pinch them together.
Make sure your shoulders are pointing forward.
Push into the heels so you get a little bit of a bounce and practice doing that in this position to build your familiarity with the pose.
Now push steadily through the heels and push into the ground as though you are going to lift yourself up off the ground in a pushup. You may not be able to get off the ground right now and that’s completely okay. You are building the strength to eventually do so and you are teaching your muscles what to do in the pose.
Come up onto your hands and knees and line up blocks beneath your sternum.
Now get into plank position.
Your hands are under your shoulders. Your core and legs are strong. Your tailbone is tucked.
Now lower yourself down, keeping your elbows in but now tucking the body. Your shoulder blades are down your back and your shoulders are pointed forward.
Lower down so you are on the blocks beneath you. As you lower down wrap the elbows back so you can lower yourself down as slowly as possible. Maintain the integrity of the pose and stay there with the blocks supporting you.
Put your knees down to come out of the pose.
Once you’re confident doing Chadaranga onto blocks do the same thing but move the blocks so you lower slowly all the way to the floor. Don’t let your body flop to the floor. Keep muscles active and lower down slowly.
Now that you’ve tried this method of getting into the pose you can practice with your knees down, so you can come down and up without resting on the floor or on blocks.
Once you’re able to do the pose with the knees down you can try it without putting your knees down. As long as you can maintain the shape we practiced on the floor in the beginning you’re doing the pose correctly. When you lower yourself down don’t lower your shoulders below your elbows. You can always use blocks or bolster to support yourself as you practice and build stretch to do the pose.
Since this is a pose you’ll do again and again it’s good to develop the habit of good alignment early. This way you’ll avoid injury in the future.
When you do the pose remember these points:
- Check the corners of the shoulders. Shoulderblades are back and down.
- Your ribs are drawn in.
- Your tailbone is tucked under. Don’t let the tailbone rise up above the line of the body.
- Your neck is in a neutral position.
- Front body strength, good shoulder position, and good pelvic position are essential.
Find a way to work the pose in a way that is intelligent and safe for your body.
Now that we’ve walked through how to practice Chaturanga Dandasana watch the detailed video by Kino below for more detail.
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