Chaturanga 101: The Step-by-Step Guide

One of the most challenging moves in yoga is the chaturanga dandasana, or the four-limbed staff pose. This is also known as the low plank or a yoga push-up maneuver. It’s a foundational pose that helps you to learn how to center your body, and it works on getting your legs active in your arm balances.

This move may look simple, but it’s actually a pretty complex move, and some people may not realize that they’ve been doing it wrong for years. This is not only bad form in your practice of yoga where you’re not getting it right, but it’s actually potentially bad for you in that you could be injured.

Learn the step-by-step method of the best way to perform the chaturanga, and some tips on how you know if you’re doing it wrong.

Problem with Doing the Chaturanga Wrong

The chaturanga is hard, there are no two ways about it. This level of difficulty means that not everyone is going to be doing this position correctly. Yoga is more demanding on your body, as you know all too well, and not doing it correctly can mean a few things for you.

One of the worst things about doing it wrong is that you’re continuing to teach your body how to do it wrong. Muscle memory retains the way that you do a physical act and makes it part of your routine. This is normally a good thing, but when something is learned wrong, it makes it very hard to unlearn the wrong way before performing it correctly. This also increases the potential for injury with repetitive motions. This particular pose may cause injuries to your rotator cuff.

You may think that it’s too late to learn chaturanga correctly, but that’s not true. Start now to achieve this pose properly, and you’ll be on your way to getting it right.

What Do I Need?

You’ll need to use your favorite yoga mat, of course, but there’s something that you need that you may not realize. That’s a witness of some kind. You may want to enlist one of your friends who is familiar with this pose, or find one that is easily trained in what you want them to look for in a wrong pose. You may find that you’re not comfortable with someone watching you for one reason or another, and that’s okay.

Instead of using a person, use yourself. Set up a camera to record yourself while you’re doing the pose. Then, you can go through the video to see how you did with your positioning. This means you won’t be able to correct your position at the same time as you’re performing the pose, but if it helps your comfort level and confidence, this is acceptable. If you have a mirror that’s correctly placed, you can also use that to help you with viewing your body’s positioning.

You’ll also need to have enough strength in your abdominal muscles, arms and shoulders to be able to hold this pose correctly. Each of these parts of your body will work together to help you get the perfect alignment to achieve a correctly executed chaturanga. If you are working on your strength in these areas or you just get tired, you should drop your knees. This is the best way to protect yourself from injury. The key is not focus on doing it right that you harm yourself in the process.

Getting the Correct Position

– You’ll need to get into a plank position.

– Your hands should be under your elbows while your elbows are under your shoulders. Your elbows should be hugging the sides of your body. The top of your shoulders should be pulled back from your ears and pointing straight ahead. This will help broaden your chest.

– Your core should be engaged with your abdominals and lower ribs pulled in.

– Your thighs should be pushing up as your heels are pushing back.

-You need to hug your muscles into your body’s midline.

– Roll your way forward on your toes which will lower your arms into a 90-degree angle and stop.

– Voila, you have the chaturanga.

– You can then move into upward facing dog to complete it.

Things Not To Do During the Pose

– If you’re not engaging your core enough, you’ll find that your bottom tends to raise up in the air.

– If your shoulders are drooping, this means that you may need to work on improving the strength of your serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles.

– If your center droops, this means that you’ve stopped engaging your central core muscles enough to hold the pose.

Now you know what you need to do to perform the chaturanga dandasana correctly. It’s time to dust off your exercise mat and start embedding the correct muscle memory into your system. Good luck on your future yoga endeavors.

Posted by Jeremiah Boehner