A Sanskrit to English translation of chaturanga dandasana is as follows. Chat = four, anga = limb. Danda = staff. So the direct translation is the Four Limb Staff Pose, also known as the infamous “yogi push up” or “half push up”. No one can deny that this yogi push up is a power pose. It requires focus, strength, stamina, and the fire of your commitment. It builds muscles from the wrists and hands, into the arms and upper back and throughout the core. When done with attentive alignment in chaturanga dandasana for a complete mindful breath (or more) there is such a fierceness and dedication required that staying present is not optional. Unfortunately, we often rush through. We do so with the mindset of getting this pose done and being quick about it because if you really think about it. Who really likes this pose anyway?
The common, yet quick approach to Chaturanga Dandasana invariably leads to the creation of misaligned and habitual movement patterns. Because of this Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the primary poses that contribute to repetitive strain injuries (RSI) in yogis. Wrist issues, of the carpal tunnel variety, and shoulder issues, such as rotator cuff tears, occur in Chaturanga if repeatedly practiced in misalignment over time. Over time is the key element here. Don’t despair, with awareness, education and practice we can prevent our own future suffering. We can work towards our own transformation Overall, we can improve alignment in Chaturanga Dandasana.
Here are a few of the most common mis- alignments in chaturanga dandasana that I see in the yoga classroom:
Don’t despair, not all is lost, with awareness, education and practice we can prevent our own future suffering, work towards our own transformation and become more awake through the process. Here are some key actions to consider for alignment in chaturanga dandasana:
To practice the alignment in chaturanga dandasana tips above do so first in non-weight bearing, so go ahead and prop up on a bolster, then move your new understanding into the yogi push up with your knees on the floor and finally try it out in its fiercest expression with the knees off of the floor. Don’t rush this process; it takes time to build strength and transform imbalances in the physical body. It would be smarter to commit to Knees Down Chaturanga in alignment than rush into knees off the floor before your muscles are attuned and ready, and if you are really attentive to the work and honest about it knees down is hard enough.
Interested in pose study?
Consider joining a Yoga Teacher Training course at Soma Yoga Institute. Immerse yourself into an alignment based approach to pose analysis including and beyond alignment in chaturanga dandasana. We take time to build our proprioceptive awareness and educate and re-educate our bodies. As we step into this process the invitation for all is to let go of perfection. Instead develop in the art of self-honoring with a compassionate heart.
Many thanks to Amanda and Casey. Both were students of the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, for modeling and to Krina for taking the pictures.