"It is through the body that you realize you are a spark of divinity" - B.K.S Iyengar
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Chaturanga Dandasana - Four Limb Staff Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana is a pose that you will encounter often in Vinyasa yoga and when doing the Sun Salutation sequences. Chatur means four, anga means limb and danda means staff which is why in English it is called Four Limb Staff Pose. The four limbs being referred to are the hands and feet which support the entire body. In classes you may also hear it being referred to as low plank. It is a challenging pose that requires arm, back and abdominal muscle strength. It is a great asana to practice to build that upper body strength and become aware of your body in space.  Chaturanga Dandasana-Four Limb Staff Pose

It takes time to build the strength to hold this pose. If you find your hips are dropping to the floor, your spine alignment is compromised and you don’t yet have the strength to perform it in its full expression then drop your knees. It is better to take the modified version of Chaturanga Dandasana so that you engage the required muscles and build that strength first.

 Chaturanga Dandasana Modified -Four Limb Staff Pose

Remember to honour your body and if it’s struggling don’t force it to do something it is not ready for.

Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana

  • strengthens the arms and wrists
  • tones abdominal muscles
  • strengthens upper and lower back muscles
  • improves spine alignment
  • increases overall stamina

How to Perform Chaturanga Dandasana

  1. Start off in table top pose so you are on the floor on all fours, ensure your knees are as wide as your hips and tuck your toes.
  2. Your hands are as wide as shoulders slightly in front of them with fingers evenly spread out and palms flat down on the ground.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles, move forward to position your shoulders above your wrists and press into the floor straightening your arms and lifting your knees off the mat. This brings you into high plank pose or Phalakasana as it is known in Sanskrit.
  4. Ensure you are engaging your abdominal muscles and that your shoulders are above your wrists. As you exhale bend the elbows back along side the ribs lowering the entire body as one unit down until you are parallel to the ground with your shoulders in line with your elbows. Hold for as long as you can, then lower yourself all the way down to the mat and rest.
  5. If you are struggling to lower your body down as one unit from Phalakasana into Chaturanga Dandasana then modify the pose by dropping your knees to the mat.

If you would like to challenge yourself then instead of lowering yourself down all the way to the floor, from Chaturanga Dandasana push yourself back up into Phalakasana and rest in Balasana (child’s pose). Please make sure to take the modified version if you need it, too often in classes you can see people insisting on lowering themselves down without using their knees but their hips collapse down and the integrity of the pose is compromised.

Enjoy practicing Four Limb Staff Pose, it will definitely strengthen your entire body over time.


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