How to Do Four-Limbed Staff Pose in Yoga (Guide to Chaturanga Dandasana)

Also known as the yogi push-up, the Four-Limbed Staff Pose is an essential asana in most yoga classes. It’s the transitional pose between Plank pose and Upward-Facing Dog in Vinyasa flows.

The pose is done frequently but is often misunderstood. It’s important to focus on proper alignment, which requires you to activate your entire body and keep your elbows close to your ribs. When you focus on proper alignment, the pose becomes much more challenging and more beneficial for your strength and body awareness.

On the other hand, since there are many cues you need to follow in this pose – it can happen that someone’s perfect alignment doesn’t work for your body. Find a modification that works but never allows your body to collapse. If the pose is too hard – lower your knees to the ground and perform it that way. 

“Even though I have been practicing yoga for many years and Chaturanga is second nature for me – I still sometimes perform it with my knees on the ground,” says Yoga Answered contributor Sara Popovic. “That’s especially true in Vinyasa and Ashtanga classes when it’s performed too many times for me to be able to hold it with perfect alignment every time. I think it’s crucial to understand that the pose is just as beneficial if you modify it – you’ll make sure you’re activating the correct muscles and protect yourself from injury.”

Four-Limbed Staff Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Chaturanga Dandasana
Pose Type: Arm Balance Yoga Poses, Core Yoga Poses, Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Full Body
Benefits: The Four-Limbed Staff pose strengthens your core, arms, and back. It also makes the wrists and ankles stronger and more flexible. It’s a great pose to work on your mind-muscle connection and alignment, as it teaches you to distribute weight throughout your entire body. The pose stimulates the third chakra, which is responsible for self-confidence and self-esteem. It is an empowering asana, helping you connect with your inner strength.
Preparatory Poses: Plank pose, Cobra pose, Locust pose, Dolphin pose, and Sphinx pose.

How to Do Four-Limbed Staff Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in Plank pose, and shift forward, so your shoulders are slightly in front of your wrists. Come onto the balls of your feet.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles and quadriceps, to create a straight line from the top of your head to your feet.
  3. Exhale and push your elbows straight back, then lower down until your body is a few inches from the ground and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Make sure your elbows don’t open out to the sides.
  4. Hold the pose for a few breaths. If it’s difficult to hold with proper alignment, lower your knees to the floor.
  5. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, push back up to Plank pose or lower all the way down to your belly.

Beginner’s Tip

You must activate your arms, core, and thighs in this pose to make sure you’re maintaining proper alignment. Activating the muscles will also make the posture easier to hold. Avoid shifting to one side – your body should be centered, and the weight should be distributed through all four limbs. If you’re just beginning to build arm strength, perform the pose with your knees on the floor, but still engage your core and keep your elbows close to your torso.

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