[Pose Of the Week] Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Intermediate)

Build core and upper body strength with Four-Limbed Staff pose. Follow these tips to perform the pose safely and protect your shoulder joints…

Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) – also known as Low Plank Pose – is a beginner-to-intermediate level yoga pose that builds strength in the upper body. This pose strengthens the arms, wrists, shoulders, core, back muscles, and more, and it is a great way to strengthen and prepare your body for arm balance poses such as Crane or Crow Pose. It also helps to improve posture and overall core and upper body strength and function.

While this pose is very common in beginner yoga classes, it is important to know how to do it properly to protect the shoulders and avoid injury.

Be sure to follow the steps below carefully, and watch out for common mistakes like letting your elbows spread outwards, lowering too far, or having your wrists under your shoulders. You should be sure to always shift your weight forward so that your wrists are behind your shoulders before you lower, and only bring your upper arms parallel to the floor in the pose to protect your shoulder joints – don’t let your shoulders come below your elbows.

If you don’t have the core strength to keep your body straight throughout the pose, modify as needed rather than allowing your hips to sag.

To modify the pose while you work on building strength, you can practice on your knees while following all of the other steps below. Those with wrist or shoulder injuries should avoid or modify this pose.

How to Do Four-Limbed Staff Pose:

  1. Start in Plank Pose with the arms and legs very straight. Feet are hip-distance apart and shoulders are over your wrists. Heels press back while the crown of the head reaches forward. You could draw a line from your heels to the crown of your head because the hips are neither drooping down nor sticking up. The legs are firm and the core is engaged (think about pulling your belly button toward your spine) to allow you to maintain a straight body throughout this sequence.
  2. Shift the plank forward, moving the shoulders in front of the wrists and feet up on tip-toes. This shifted-forward plank position is the key to a safer Chaturanga.
  3. Roll your shoulders back to blossom your chest through your upper arms. This will also naturally cause your head and neck to come up a bit out of their flat position, but they will still be in line with your spine.
  4. Lower to Chaturanga. Bend your elbows straight back, hugging them into the side of your body as you go. They should not wing out to the sides like they might in a traditional push-up. Notice that because your shoulders were already in front of your wrists, your forearms naturally assume a perpendicular position to the floor. The ideal version of the pose has the upper arms parallel to the floor. Do not go any lower than that.
  5. Pause and hold the pose at the bottom for a few seconds, then transition to your next pose.
Learn more safety tips at VeryWellFit.com

Image by yoga mama via (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) on Flickr.


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