Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) builds strength throughout the body. But if done incorrectly or for the wrong reasons (your ego) there can be injury, primarily in the shoulder joint. If you have shoulder or wrist injuries or if you are pregnant then this may not be the best option for your practice. I tell my students all the time they can have a wonderful yoga practice without this pose but if they’re going to do it then let’s do it safely and use it as it was meant to be. Here are a few tips for those that are ready: 1. Be mindful of why you are doing this. Is it to build strength or because the young woman on the mat next to you is doing it? 2. This is an advanced pose that builds strength throughout the body and prepares you for arm balances. It does not need to be done repetitively in order to prove that you are strong. 3. Chaturanga on your knees to begin is an excellent way to prepare and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Modified Plank Pose Photography by Tristina Scaife
4. Begin the pose in center plank with your shoulders aligned slightly ahead of the wrists. Press through the hands and lift out of the shoulder joint. Externally rotate the upper arm (imagine you could bring your triceps closer to your ribs by turning the shoulders and hugging the shoulder blades into the torso). At the same time internally rotate the forearm so that the eyes of your elbows are looking at each other. Maintain active engagement in your hands, equally in the fingertips and heel.
As you bend your elbows keep them over your wrist while keeping the shoulders above or at the line of the elbow.
6. As you exhale lower your body by bending your elbows, keeping them over your wrists and against the sides of your torso. Complete the exhale in the hover before lowering your hips to the mat. The hips should lower before the chest if you are moving into Cobra Pose. If Upward Dog is part of your flow then transition to the tops of your feet, legs and hips off the mat, and press up to your heart opener from the 90° angle. A 90° angle at the elbow joint is a general guide. This protects the shoulder joint from bearing the weight of the body. This is a very active pose and I could write so much more on it! The most important tip is make sure that you are ready and start slow. If you have any questions email me. -Danielle Header photography by Madison Rush Leggings by Clever Yoga