What is Chaturanga Dandasana?
The name of this asana comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Chatur’meaning ‘four’, ‘anga’ meaning ‘limb’, ‘danda’ meaning ‘stick’ or ‘staff’(refers to the spine, the central ‘staff ‘or support of the body),and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’.
Chaturanga Dandasana or the Four-Limbed Staff Pose is an advanced variation of the Dandasana, with catur meaning four, anga meaning limb and danda, the staff. The English names is thus a literal translation, Four-Limbed Staff, and also describes perfectly what the pose intends to do — suspend your body on the all fours, like a staff.
A preparatory balance pose, it strengthens the body, key important muscles and promoting balance for more advanced poses. The anatomical focus of this asana is the wrist as they support the body weight. This pose strengthens the arms and makes wrists strong; improves breathing and tones all abdominal muscles. One however does make a lot of mistakes in the simpler asanas and the Chaturanga Dandasana is one of them. The most common mistake is that of sinking your torso. This puts a lot of pressure on the elbow joints and can weaken them.
Also, be sure to distribute body weight equally through the upper and the lower body.
Caution: Do not perform this asana if you have carpal tunnel syndrome and if you are pregnant.
Here’s a step by step guide:
- Start in the mountain pose and shift into the plank pose with an exhalation.
- Lower your shoulders, with back and pubis firm but not taut, to a position where your torso is a few inches above the floor and parallel to it. Exhale as you do this. Your elbow should be streamlines with the body and should not jut out. You may find your torso curving into the ground even as your tailbone juts out. Keep the tailbone in place by engaging the legs and abdominal muscles actively to stay keep the body weight distributed equally through the torso.
- Drawing the pubis towards the navel may help to keep this energy.
- Lift the head while engaging the upper portion of the spine and look straight ahead.
Chaturanga Dandasana Steps
1. First perform adho mukha svanasana and then come to the Plank Pose.
2. Your arms should be completely extended and your spine should be straight.
3. Exhale and bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground. Stop lowering your body when you are few inches away from the ground.
4. Your body should be parallel to the floor and your hips should be straight. Let your legs to be straight.
5. Keep a broad space between your shoulder blades. Your elbows should be pushed back downwards towards the heel.
6. Your neck should be aligned straight in context with the rest of the body and press the base of your index fingers to the ground.
7. Stay in this position for about 15-30 seconds and then exhale and lie down lightly on the floor or go into the Plank Pose.
Chaturanga Dandasana Benefits
1. It strengthens arms, shoulders and leg muscles.
2. It develops core stability.
3. It prepares body for inversions and arm balances.
4. It helps to tone the abdomen and strengthen the core abdominal muscles.
5. It provides relief to people who suffer from chronic back problems as it strengthen the spinal muscles.
Chaturanga Dandasana Dos and Don’ts
Don’t practice this asana if you are pregnant or you suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. You should also not do this asana if you have a wrist or a shoulder injury.