Yoga Poses

Four Limbed Staff Pose Chaturanga Dandasana

Steps

From plank position, ensure that the hands are lined up with the shoulders and just slightly wider than the chest. The heels and toes will line up with each other. Rock forward on the toes and begin to been the elbows. The elbows and wrists will stack and the upper arm bone becomes parallel with the ground, the elbows tucked in towards the body. Keep the whole body firm.

This posture can held on its own or used flowing through sun salutations. To come out, slowly lower to the ground, or press up strongly back to plank pose, or slide the chest forward to press into Upward Facing Dog.

This poster is very challenging and for most students a modification will be required

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

While moving in and put of Chaturanga the torso must remain in alignment with a strong connection between the ribs and hips.  Envision the body as a strong tree trunk and feel the cylinder of the torso 3 dimensionally as it moves through space.  Extend the cylinder and trunk of the tree to include the legs and head.  Maintain energy through the whole body and find buoyancy and lightness in the joints.

Technical Comments

It is important that Chaturanga begins from a strong foundation.  Before lowering the body, scan through the checkpoints of alignment.  The toes and heels line up with each other, press the hamstrings to the ceiling and firm the thighs.  Spin the pelvis under gently to align the front of the hip bones (the ASIS) with the pubic bone in a horizontal plane.  Firm the lower abdomen.  Broaden the chest and draw the shoulder blades onto the back, externally rotating the shoulder joint.  Keep the elbow joint soft and spiral the eye of the elbow forward as the pointy part of the elbow turns back.  The finger tips spread wide on the floor with the base of the fingers deeply rooted, the index finger pointing forward and the thumbs pointing gently towards each other. Rock forward onto the toes and line the elbow over the wrist as you lower part way to the floor.  Ideally the joints will stack, the wrist and elbow stay in alignment.  Keep the chest wide and maintain the cylinder of the lower body.  Maintain good alignment to come out of the pose.

Benefit Comments

  • strengthens core
  • develops upper body strength, including triceps, upper back, chest, wrist and hands
  • generates heat in the body
  • powerful and invigorating

Watch Out For:

  • pelvis sagging (see modifications)
  • elbows behind wrists
  • shoulders rounding in
  • head dropping
  • de-energized legs

Contraindications

  • avoid if experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome
  • use caution with repetitive strain injuries in the wrist
  • use caution with elbow and shoulder problems

Modifications

  • perform with knees on the floor
  • don’t go down as far

Variations

This posture is very challenging in and of itself, however in time one can develop strength to move down through Chaturanga and flow over the tops of the feet.  This movement can eventually blend to Upward Facing Dog.

Yoga Counter Poses

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Written By: Meghan Aris

Certified in several disciplines of yoga, a pilates teacher and teacher trainer, Meghan is continually widening her path of body/mind studies. At a young age she began her journey into body movement through dance. After being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, she shifted her practice to more rehabilitative yoga. In this discipline she found not only the resources to heal her body, but also a guide to living a life full of peace and joy. She can be found teaching on any given day at Fix Health Care

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