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Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) is so pivotal to many yoga flow practices but it’s often misunderstood. This foundational pose requires thoughtful alignment—it’s not merely a push-up.
To create proper alignment in Chaturanga, you need to activate muscles from the front to the back of your body, and tighten your elbows close to your ribs, rather than letting them splay outward. This allows your chest to stay up in a hover. You also need to energize your legs and arms and activate your abdominals and shoulders to stay stable in the pose.
“Maintaining alignment in the shoulders and chest while bearing weight is as challenging as it is crucial,” says Natasha Rizopoulos, a senior teacher with Down Under School of Yoga.
The best way to access this pose—and every pose—is the one that works best for your body. There are plenty of modifications that you can access to meet you wherever you are on your long and pleasant journey with Four-Limbed Staff Pose.
Sanskrit: Chaturanga Dandasana (chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna)
Pose Type: Arm Balance
Target Area: Full Body
Why We Love It: “I am certainly not the first woman to approach Four-Limbed Staff Pose with an attitude somewhere between ‘I don’t think so…’ and ‘ugh,’ There was no way I had the arm strength to do this thing that is really a push-up in yoga disguise,” says yoga teacher Cyndi Lee. “Every time I tried lowering down into this position—which isn’t just a shape but also an action—I collapsed in a heap. Plop! Eventually I remembered that the point of yoga is to experience union, integration, relationship. By focusing solely on my arm strength (or lack thereof), I was doing this pose purely as a physical exercise rather than a moving expression of yoga. So I started to work my legs, to lengthen my spine, to gain awareness of where my head was and what my feet were doing. Almost overnight I could do this thing. I could do it over and over and it became so much fun.”
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Four-Limbed Staff Pose boosts energy, fights fatigue, and builds confidence and empowerment. It also strengthens your core, shoulders, arms, wrists, thighs, and ankles.
Try this pose with your knees down on the floor, especially if you are building arm strength. Maintain an engaged core.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Forearm Plank Pose
Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Purvottanasana (Reverse Plank Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)