It is the pose name usually best memorized by yoga students: Chaturanga Dandasana. Chaturanga Dandasana means four-limbed staff pose. At the heart of Sun Salutations and vinyasa transition, Chaturanga Dandasana is a pose we often do yes, but without always doing it right. So here are a few tips to make sure you master it next time.
Don’t let your chest fall to the floor.
The first mistake we often see when dealing with Chaturanga Dandasana is people lowering the breast to the floor and lifting the buttocks to the sky. As Danda means staff in Sanskrit, think of your body as if it were a stick next time you lower in Chaturanga. Therefore, the breast shouldn’t go lower than the hips. It should stay aligned with the hips for your body to form one single line, from the top of the head down to the heels. If it helps, do not go too low.
Keep your elbows alongside the body.
Bend the elbows keeping them alongside your chest, don’t arch the back and keep your shoulder blades from going inward. To master Chaturanga Dandasana, your arms must be strong, your shoulders steady. If you feel you lack arm strength, it is wiser to practice putting the knees on the ground. Yoga is listening to your body and learn patience. Better move at your own pace and execute the pose safely once you’re ready than rushing into it and risking injuring yourself.
Distribute the weight and move the body slightly forward.
When doing Chaturanga Dandasana, as in any other, always keep in mind to distribute your weight. The key lies in activating your core to keep the pressure away from the lower back. Move your whole body slightly forward, pressing against the floor with the tiptoes, as you lower down to ease the effort.
Activate the core. Relieve the lower back.
When lacking strength, instead of activating our core, we sometimes compensate with our lower back, sometimes without even knowing it. Does that sound familiar? If you’ve ever felt your lower back very intensely after doing abs, it often means you’ve failed to activate your core and that the pressure has gone to your lower back; your body always tries to compensate. This situation often happens with people having a pronounced arch in the lower back. Remember, you cannot activate your core pulling the belly in. When you activate your bicep, the muscle expands, right? Well, the same thing happens with the abdomen.
Think Dandasana. Think “stick.”
When doing staff pose, you should look like a staff. The goal isn’t to go the closest you can to the floor. It is instead to maintain your body in one single line while doing it.
And now, let’s practice!
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