Chaturanga Dandasana -  Four-legged staff pose / low plank

 This pose is an integral part of Vinyasa style practices and when performed correctly can be a great strength builder for the arms, core and the entire upper body. The body should resemble a staff with the spine in a straight line. Unfortunately, students new to yoga do not always have the strength or knowledge to align properly, which can create pain or risk injury in the shoulders.


So, how do we practice Chaturanga safely?

  1. Start in a high plank with shoulders slightly in front of the wrists.


  1. Inhale and transfer your weight onto the balls of your feet and push the heels back. This will help to engage your thighs.
  1. Shift your chest forward slightly to create a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
  1. Make sure you engage the core.
  1. Exhale as you bend the elbows while keeping them tight into your ribcage. Lower until your shoulders are at the same level as your elbows (90 degrees) and upper arms parallel to the floor. Make sure your shoulders are drawn away from the floor. Your weight will naturally shift forwards.
  1. Your body should be completely straight. Don’t let your shoulders collapse below your elbows or your butt stick up in the air.




  1. From a high plank position lower onto the knees.

 Keep a straight line from the knees to the top of the head and engage the core.

As you exhale, bend at the elbows and lower to 90 degrees keeping arms glued in to your sides.


  1. Use a strap to help build strength.

 Place a strap around both upper arms and across chest pulling it so the strap is taut.

 From high plank position, bend elbows to 90 degrees. The strap will support your chest and prevent your shoulders from lowering too far.

Keep your body aligned making sure your core and thighs are engaged. Hold to help build strength. Gradually you will be able to hold for longer.

A block can be placed between the knees to remind you to keep your thighs engaged.