Master The Challenging Four-Limbed Staff Yoga Pose

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The four-limbed staff yoga pose features many yoga sequences often forming a transitionary stage rather than being practiced as a standalone pose. Many students of yoga find the pose a little challenging but it is worth practicing as it offers so many benefits. 

yoga pose

Four-Limbed Staff Yoga Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)

Core strength is one area in which the four-limbed staff yoga pose really excels. It’s important to engage the abdominal muscles to perform a strong pose, and by doing so, this increases abdominal strength while improving posture and back strength. It also encourages you to lengthen the spine and increases stamina while holding the pose. Due to the positioning of the arms, it’s easy to see that it requires and creates strength in the shoulders, arms, and wrists. If you have plantar fascia problems of the feet, this pose can help.

Common Issues of This Pose

Many people struggle with this yoga pose and it is important to get the alignment right from the beginning. It’s useful to warm up your shoulders and the abdominals first and you can do this by practicing Eagle pose (Garudasana) or boat pose (Paripurna Navasana). Preparation of your mid-back section is also important and a round or two of the Locust pose (Salabhasana) is useful, as is depicted below. If you are new to the four-limbed staff yoga pose, practice with folded blankets or bolsters beneath you as this will provide support while you get into the correct alignment.

It’s important that your head is stacked on the top of the spine and you can do this by lowering the chin slightly which will lengthen the back of the neck. Let the crown of the head move forward.  Your hands should be approximately shoulder-width distance apart. Keep your index fingers parallel to each other. 

As you lower your body, your hands will draw back so to propel your body forward. Arms must be strong; the shoulders should be the same height at least as the elbows. Bend and draw your elbows to the side of the ribcage. You should focus your gaze on a fixed point approximately an inch or two in front of your hands.

Keep your pelvis neutral and stabilize it by lowering the sacrum and tailbone visualizing them going towards your heels. Think of it as lengthening the spine. Keep your legs firm and direct your heels towards the back of the room, draw the kneecaps up but do not lock them. Your feet should be hip distance apart. Spread your toes. Your chest must be neutral too. Lengthen through the waist and round the upper back but only slightly. Keep your focus on grounding within this pose. Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Summary

This is a wonderful and dynamic pose but it takes whole body strength to ensure correct alignment. Practice this in front of a mirror and this will help to ensure your alignment is correct. Or attend a yoga class so that your teacher can advise you. Practice this as a standalone pose or as part of the Sun Salutation Sequence.

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