Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)


What is Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)?

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana, or Four-Limbed Staff Pose, is a yogi variation of push-ups and low planks. This pose requires you to balance with your arms, and it stimulates your core balance, shoulder strength, and spinal alignment. 

This pose is typically used as a strength-building yoga asana in your upper body and core, and it’s part of many yoga dynamic flows like Surya Namaskar. 

This low plank yoga asana can be super challenging for newbies. That’s why it’s important to focus intently on your practice and seek balance with 'Dharana' (focusing on your alignment).  

The name Chaturanga Dandasana comes from the Sanskrit words, "Chatur" which means Four, "Anga" which means Limb, "Danda" which means Staff, and "Asana" which means Posture.

This pose first appeared in the 1896 book Vyayama Dipika (Gymnastics Manual)It was adopted into modern yoga by Krishnamacharya, and he mostly used this pose for Vinyasa yoga flows. 

Later, Chaturanga Dandasana was taken up by his students, Pattabhi Jois and B. K. S. Iyengar. We can witness an specific mention of this pose in the 20th-century book Light on Yoga by Iyengar.

Sanskrit Name: चतुरङ्ग दण्डासन     Pronunciation: cha-thur-anga Dhan-daa-sana

Pose Type: Arm Balance         Also known as: Four-Limbed Staff Pose and Low Plank

Strengthens: Arms, Shoulders, Chest, Back, and Core  Stretches: None

Health Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana

  • Improves core balance. 

  • Improves range of motion in the elbow joint.

  • Increases overall strength and endurance.  

  • Helps burn fat around your arms and core. 

  • Strengthens the upper arms, wrists, and forearms.

  • Stimulates the digestive system and Manipura Chakra. 

  • Improves spinal flexibility, which enables you to align your body properly. 

  • Arm and core balance together helps you enhance mental awareness and focus.

When to Avoid Performing Chaturanga Dandasana

  • Avoid if you have elbow arthritis.

  • Avoid if you have high blood pressure. 

  • Avoid if you have had a severe injury or surgery. 

  • Avoid if you have migraines or lower back pain.

  • Avoid during the final trimester of pregnancy. 

How to do Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

The four-limbed staff pose can be a physically challenging pose for beginners. Below we have divided the whole practice into four parts.

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Chaturanga Dandasana

Before starting the practice, warm up with some static stretching like arm stretches, forward bending, and neck rotations. 

Once you can feel tight muscles opening and blood circulating throughout your body, you can then start with below mentioned preparatory poses: 

1. Forearm Plank Pose - Inhale as you engage your core and hold your body in a horizontal line. As the name suggests, you have to balance your entire body on your forearms and toes in this pose.  

Forearm Plank Pos

Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes for complete core and upper body activation. This pose is suitable for those who feel their shoulders and core are too weak for the Chaturanga Dandasana pose.

2. Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana (High Plank Pose) - This pose is the best way to intensify resistance in your arms and core. Try moving from the low plank to the full arms plank variation. 

 Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana (High Plank Pose)

Inhale and lift your elbows from the ground. Now, keep your arms straight but try not to lock your elbows. Hold your body on your toes and palms for 1 to 3 minutes.  

3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) - Inhale and move from Plank pose into a Cobra backbend. Exhale deeply, and hold the Cobra pose for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

This pose will help increase blood circulation in your lower back, shoulders, neck, and spine to avoid unnecessary pain or injury. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Chaturanga Dandasana

The following are steps to practice the Four-Limbed Staff pose:

Step 1- Place your hands and knees flat on the mat, with your toes curled toward your knees and your wrists aligned with your shoulders.

Step 2- Lift your knees off the ground and extend your legs behind you one at a time until your legs are straight. 

Step 3- Keep your neck, spine, and glutes straight in a line. Also, ensure your core is tight and your elbows are close to your chest. 

Step 4- Pull your shoulder blades together. Bend the elbows and lower your body until your upper arms align with your torso. 

Step 5- Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths here. Then release the pose by either getting into an Upward-Facing Dog Pose or Reverse Corpse Pose to relax your body. 

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale as you engage your arms, core, shoulders, and legs. 

  • Exhale as you lower your upper body close to the ground. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the Chaturanga Dandasana for 30-60 seconds.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the Chaturanga Dandasana for 1 to 5 minutes.

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

Safely executing yoga asanas is the essential goal of every new yogi. Here are a few ways to keep your posture safe and well-aligned:

  • Learn the difference between engaging and locking: Engagement of muscles will help you find your actual strength with which you can hold the Chaturanga Dandasana for longer lengths of time. 

Many people lock their joints while engaging the muscles – this can cause joint stress and pain. So, make sure to keep a slight bend in all of your joints even when every muscle is tight in your body. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Chaturanga Dandasana

Your arms, shoulder, and spine will require some relaxation after practicing Chaturanga Dandasana. Here are a few counter-poses you can try:

1. Purvottanasana (Reverse Plank Pose) - This pose will counteract all the effects of the Low Plank pose by stretching pectoralis minor, pectoralis major, and anterior deltoids. 

 Purvottanasana (Reverse Plank Pose)

Hold your body in this stance for 1 to 2 minutes and release, returning to the Seated Staff pose. 

2. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) - From Chaturanga Dandasana, you can straighten up into the Upward Dog pose. Traditionally, your body only balances on your palms and toes, but during relaxation, you can modify this pose by keeping your legs on the ground. 

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

Take a deep breath, stretch your neck upwards, and slightly drop it at the back. This is a backbend posture, which will stretch and relax your spine, tailbone, neck, shoulders, and lower back. Hold this for 1 to 2 minutes. 

3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) - Continue moving from the Upward Dog pose into the Downward Facing Dog pose. With this pose, you can relax any leftover tension in your shoulders, spine, chest, arms, and legs. 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Hold this for as long as your body feels comfortable, and all the tension in your body is completely released. 

Chaturanga Dandasana Modifications and Props

To practice the Four-Limbed Staff Pose, you must use your arms, shoulders, chest, and core muscles. If you are a beginner, this may feel challenging. 

Below are a few posture modifications with props for beginners to get support while perfecting their Chaturanga Dandasana practice: 

  • Get on your knees: If getting on your toes is challenging for you, try the Four-Limbed Staff pose with your knees on the ground. 

Get on your knees

This will help you minimize the resistance level on your core and help you gain some strength in your upper body. 

  • Add a bolster: If it’s hard for you to lower your upper body and hold it close to the ground, simply place a bolster under your chest and torso. 

Add a bolster

This will help you build a strong foundation around your core, shoulder, and arms while holding your body close to the ground for prolonged durations. 

  • Add yoga blocks: If you want to move away from the bolster and test your core strength, but somewhere you are skeptical about it, place two yoga blocks below each shoulder and hold the pose.
Add yoga blocks

If you want to move away from the block entirely, make sure your shoulders are not touching the block. 

Chaturanga Dandasana Variations to Consider

Every yogi’s journey is different due to varying physical abilities. So, depending on your physical capabilities, choose from the following Chaturanga variations that will work for you the best: 

1. Ashtangasana (Eight-Limbed Pose): It is an assisted version of Chaturanga Dandasana for those who feel balancing on the core is challenging. As the name suggests, Ashtangasana means a yoga pose with eight parts of your body in contact with the floor. 

Ashtangasana (Eight-Limbed Pose)

To get into this pose, just balance your entire body on your knees, toes, palms, and shoulders. This is a great hip, back, chest, and shoulder opening pose. 

2. One-Legged Eight-Limbed Pose: 

If you want to increase your core strength for Chaturanga but you aren’t feeling very strong, you can continue the Ashtangasana this time with an added variation. 

One-Legged Eight-Limbed Pose

Just make sure to lift only one leg up. Hold your leg up for a minute, release it, and repeat the same on the other side. 

3. One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff Pose:This is an advanced pose for Chaturanga Dandasana. You can slowly release one toe off the ground and keep balancing your body on three limbs in this position. 

 One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff Pose

After a few seconds, put the lifted leg back on the ground and now repeat the same on the other side.

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Level-Up Poses After Chaturanga Dandasana for Advanced Yogis

Below are some balancing yoga poses that you can practice after the Four-Limbed Staff pose these are designed to help you with your arm and core balance. 

Also, these are advanced-level yoga asanas, so make sure you have built enough endurance and strength prior to practicing these poses. 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Camatkarasana (Wild Thing Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Vasisthasana II (Side Plank Pose II)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Level-Up Pose 4 - Ganda Bherundasana (Formidable Face Pose)

Camatkarasana (Wild Thing Pose)\t

Camatkarasana (Wild Thing Pose)

Vasisthasana II (Side Plank Pose II)

Vasisthasana II (Side Plank Pose II)

Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Ganda Bherundasana (Formidable Face Pose)

Ganda Bherundasana (Formidable Face Pose)

Similar Seated Arm Balance Poses like Chaturanga Dandasana

The following are some more arm balance poses you can try for arm strength as well as core balance:

  1. Crow Pose (Kakasana)

  2. Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)

  3. Peacock Pose (Mayurasana)

  4. Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)

  5. Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana)

Elephant's Trunk Pose (Eka Hasta Bhujasana)

Frequently Asked Questions about Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

What are the benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana?

What is the difference between Chaturanga and Vinyasa?

What are the benefits of Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana?

What is the meaning of Chaturanga Dandasana?

How to do Chaturanga Dandasana?

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