Do you want to improve your yoga practice? If so, chaturanga dandasana is a great pose to focus on. Also known as lower plank, chaturanga is a foundational pose that helps build upper body strength. It can be challenging for beginners, but with practice and the correct modifications, you will be able to master it!
In this blog post, I will discuss the basics of chaturanga dandasana and how to perfect your alignment in the pose.
What is Chaturanga Dandasana?
Chaturanga dandasana, often simply called chaturanga, is a yoga pose that resembles a low push-up. The pose begins in plank position, with the hands directly below the shoulders and the feet hip-width apart. From there, the body is lowered down until the elbows are parallel with the floor. The gaze remains focused forward, and the core muscles remain engaged throughout the pose. Chaturanga is often used as a transitional pose between more active poses, such as sun salutations, and standing or seated yoga poses (especially in ashtanga yoga, power yoga and in a typical vinyasa class).
However, it can also be practiced on its own as a way to build upper body strength. When done regularly, chaturanga can help to tone the arms, shoulders, and chest.
How to do Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga dandasana, often simply called “chaturanga,” is a pose that is both challenging and rewarding as it involves the entire body to be involved. For beginners, it can be difficult to maintain good form while performing the pose, but with practice, chaturanga can become a staple of your practice. Here are some tips:
1. Start in high plank pose, or think of a traditional push up. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your feet should be hip-width apart.
2. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest is just above the floor. By keeping your leg muscles and abdominal muscles engaged you will help your body to find a straight line from head to heels. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep your elbows tucked and think about bringing your shoulder blades down.
Ideally, we want our shoulders to be at the same height as the elbows. Keep the neck long, gaze can be slightly ahead or think the crown of your head facing forward. Work on your core strength by engaging your core.
3. If lowering from high plank pose in a straight line is too challenging, you can modify the full pose. The best way to do chaturanga correctly is to lower the knees. This is also known as half chaturanga and over time your chaturanga strengthens and you will be able to build the required strength to do the pose correctly.
Chaturanga dandasana is an excellent way to build strength in the upper and lower arms and shoulders whilst practicing yoga. It also helps to improve posture and increases flexibility in the wrist and elbow joints. With regular practice, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your overall strength and stamina and you may even build up strength for those arm balances you want to try out.
The Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga dandasana, often simply referred to as “chaturanga,” is a yoga pose that offers a variety of benefits. First and foremost, chaturanga is an excellent way to build strength in the arms, shoulders, and core muscles. It also helps to improve balance and coordination. In addition, chaturanga can help to increase flexibility in the spine and hips. Furthermore, the pose can help to massage the organs and improve digestion. Finally, chaturanga is a great way to release tension and stress from the body.
Still not convinced of the benefits of chaturanga? Well, regarding plank pose, in particular, Healthline mentions: “a great alternative to crunches, planks can help improve core strength and stability.” So imagine the added benefit of also lowering down to lower plank.
Common Mistakes in Chaturanga Dandasana & How to Avoid Them
There are a few common mistakes people make when doing chaturanga dandasana, or four-limbed staff pose.
Mistake 1 – Hips too high
When the hips are too high, the spine is not in line. Additionally, this way the shoulders dip, which may cause extra strain on the shoulders.
Mistake 2 – Shoulders out of alignment
This can cause the core to drop down. Similar to plank pose, we ideally want our body to be in one line.
Mistake 3 – Neck out of alignment
Similar to plank pose, another common mistake in Chaturanga is having the neck out of alignment, which happens when we try to look up at the ceiling or straight ahead. This can put a strain on your neck, and as a result, compromise our form.
To avoid these mistakes, simply keep your body in one straight line from your feet to your shoulders, tuck your belly button in, and keep those elbows close to your sides. With practice, you’ll be able to perfect this challenging pose.
Tips for Perfecting Your Chaturanga Dandasana
-Start in a low plank position, with your hands directly below your shoulders.
-Engage your core muscles and slowly lower your body down to the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
-Press back up to starting position and repeat.
-You can also modify this pose by doing it from your knees instead of from a full plank position.
Variations and Modifications of Chaturanga Dandasana
While chaturanga dandasana may seem daunting at first, there are many variations and modifications that can make the pose more accessible.
For example, beginner yogis you are learning chaturanga can start by practicing chaturanga from a kneeling position. This helps to build the necessary arm and shoulder strength while still allowing the student to maintain proper alignment.
This is great for anyone with a shoulder injury who doesn’t have enough strength to lower to a 90 degree angle with knees up.
Those looking for a greater challenge can try lowering all the way to the ground, or adding a vinyasa flow in between each chaturanga. No matter what level you’re at, there’s a way to enjoy this beneficial pose.
Meaning of Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga dandasana, often simply referred to as “chaturanga,” is a yoga pose that resembles a push-up. The word “chaturanga” comes from the Sanskrit words “chatur,” meaning “four,” and “anga,” meaning “limb.” As such, chaturanga is sometimes called “four-limbed staff pose.” The pose gets its name from the fact that the body forms a straight line from the crown of the head to the heels, much like a staff.
Advantages of Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga Dandasana is an essential component of a traditional Sun Salutation sequence. The pose builds strength in the arms and core, while also lengthening the spine. To enter the pose, begin in Plank Pose with the hands directly beneath the shoulders. As you inhale, lower the body down toward the floor, keeping the elbows close to the sides of the body.
The goal is to get the upper arms parallel to the floor, but if this isn’t possible at first, don’t worry – just lower as far as you can. Exhale and press back up to Plank.
Chaturanga is often performed as a flowing movement, but it can also be held for several breaths. Remember to keep breathing evenly throughout the pose.
With regular practice, you’ll soon be able to achieve a deep, healthy Chaturanga Dandasana.
Chaturanga to Upward Facing Dog
The sun salutation is a cornerstone of most yoga practices. It is a flow of movements that link breath with movement and can be performed at a slow or fast pace, depending on your needs.
The sun salutation can be performed as a standalone practice or as a warm-up for a more vigorous practice. Chaturanga to upward-facing dog is one of the key transitions in the sun salutation. Chaturanga is a low plank position, and upward-facing dog is an arc-like backend.
The transition between these two poses requires both strength and flexibility. To move from chaturanga to upward facing dog, begin in low plank with your shoulders over your wrists and your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, draw your belly to your spine and press back into downward-facing dog. Then, on an exhale, lower your hips and bring your chest through your arms into upward-facing dog. Broaden across your collarbones and press into your hands to lift your hips and thighs off the ground.
Gaze up toward the sky, and then exhale back to low plank to complete one cycle. With regular practice, you will develop the strength and flexibility needed to perform this transition with ease.
Using Blocks for Chaturanga Dandasana
Blocks are a great way to modify your chaturanga dandasana. If you have trouble keeping your elbows close to your ribs in this pose, placing a block under each hand can help. It allows you to sink down a little lower while still maintaining good alignment.
You can also use blocks in chaturanga dasasana if you have wrist pain (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome), check out my video here.
Placing your hands on blocks takes some of the weight off of your wrists and can help you to maintain a better position. Try experimenting with different heights until you find one that feels comfortable for you. Remember to practice with caution and listen to your body. Blocks are a great way to make this pose accessible for everyone.
Using a Strap for Chaturanga Dandasana
One way to make the pose more accessible is to use a strap. To do this, wrap the strap around your upper arms, just above the elbows. The strap should be firm but not tight, and you should be able to slide your hands through it easily.
As you come into chaturanga, bring your elbows to the strap, rather than trying to lower all the way down. This will help you to maintain proper alignment and avoid straining your shoulders. With regular practice, you’ll eventually be able to lower all the way down into chaturanga without the use of a strap. In the meantime, using a strap can help you to safely and effectively experience the benefits of this popular pose.
Chaturanga Dandasana is an essential pose for any yoga practice. It builds strength and stability in the core and arms, while helping to improve focus and concentration. With regular practice, this pose can help to increase overall strength and flexibility. If you’re new to yoga or just starting out with Chaturanga Dandasana, remember to take your time and go at your own pace. Be patient and consistent with your practice, and you will soon be able to master this challenging but rewarding pose.