In Sanskrit, Chaturanga Dandasana (chah-tuur-ANGH-uh dahn-DAHS-uh-nuh) translates to four-limbed staff pose. Often shortened to Chaturanga or low plank. We include this pose in Sun Salutations and Vinyasa classes and often forget that it’s a pose in itself. In a Baptiste Yoga class, we do about 26 of them, so important to do correctly especially as you fatigue. Most people hate this pose because it’s a physically demanding pose. As they fatigue their ego kicks in and they push through it rather than listening to their body and modifying the pose to drop to their knees. The danger in pushing through it, is that can hurt your shoulders or wrists. It also makes some people give up all together because its too hard. Leave your ego at the door!
Benefits of the pose:
Chaturanga strengthens and tones the wrists, arms, abdominal muscles, and lower back. Similar to a traditional push-up, it also strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine, which helps to improve posture.
Cautions: Never feel pressure to do any pose that does not meet your personal awareness, skill set or fitness level.
If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga. Do not practice this pose if you are experiencing wrist, shoulder or back issues.
Start in a high plank. Spread fingers wide and dial your hands slightly outward.
Stay high on your toes and shift your body an inch forward.
Engage your core. Engage your legs. Hug in from skin to muscle to bone.
Lower halfway down, until the elbows are at 90 degrees.
That’s the pose. Then you can practice flowing to upward facing dog, downward facing dog or bad ass it back up to high plank.
Variations or modification:
From plank, lower knees, chest and chin to the floor. Keep your elbows drawn in towards your sides.
Make it easier - From plank, lower knees, chest, chin to the floor. Practice lowering your upper body so it’s a few inches above the floor. Place a block under where your chest would land and practice lower to the block.
Make it harder – Hold the pose longer, hover. Practice lifting yourself back up to plank.