April 5, 2017

Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana: Low Push-Up

Chaturanga Dandasana, also referred to as ‘low push-up’, means Four-Limbed Staff Pose: chatur = four, anga = limb, danda = staff, asana = pose. The ‘staff’ refers to the spine; when the posture is performed correctly, the body resembles a rod or staff, so the spine is in one straight line.

Chaturanga is one of my favorite poses. When done properly, it’s great for building strength in the arms, shoulders, and core. It’s very easy to do improperly, however, because it’s HARD!

If you practice regular Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga, it’s the one posture that you’ll likely do wrong the most times. Doing a pose wrong repeatedly creates the potential risk for repetitive motion injuries. In the case of Chaturanga, rotator cuff injuries.

So I would advise practicing on the knees until you have the strength to do it off the knees with proper form and alignment.

We’ll come into Chaturanga from Plank Pose:

  • Make sure your lower belly is lifting in and up and your tailbone is pointing toward your feetyoga tutorial: chaturanga dandasana
  • Rock forward a little on the toes, so your shoulders move past your wrists
  • Look a little in front of you to keep the neck long
  • As you exhale, begin to bend the elbows back towards your ribs, hugging them close to the body
    • Do not let the elbows splay out to the side
  • Keeping the torso and legs in a straight line, lower only until the upper arms come parallel to the floor and there is a right angle between the upper and lower arms
    • Do not let the shoulders dip below the elbows
Chaturanga Dandasana: A Yoga Tutorial. Learn how to safely execute chaturanga dandasana , with props and modifications!
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Prop it up!

I love teaching Chaturanga with blocks, to ensure that the shoulders do not dip too low:

yoga tutorial: chaturanga dandasana

  • Set up your hands for plank pose, and place blocks right in front of your fingertips, on their highest height
  • Perform all of the steps above, bringing the shoulders to tap the blocks
    • This will likely make the pose harder, and that’s good!

 

Modification:

  • Bring the knees down to a modified plankyoga tutorial: chaturanga dandasana
  • As you exhale, begin to bend the elbows back towards your ribs, hugging them close to the body
    • Do not let the elbows splay out to the sides
  • Lower only so far that the upper arms stay parallel to the floor and there is a right angle between the upper and lower arms
    • Do not let the shoulders dip below the elbows

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and tones the wrists, arms, abdominal muscles, and lower back
  • Prepares the body for more challenging arm balances
  • Strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine, which helps to improve posture
  • Makes you look like a badass 😉

Prefer a Chaturanga Dandasana video?

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About the author 

Natalie

I am a yoga teacher who focuses on bridging the gap between what happens on the mat and life off the mat. Yoga is life – it is meant to be lived!

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