Chaturanga Dandasana

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Chaturanga Dandasana - low variation

Chaturanga Dandasana (Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग दण्डासन; Sanskrit pronunciation: [cɐt̪urɐŋgɐ d̪ɐɳɖɑːsɐn̪ɐ]; IAST: Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana) or Four-Limbed Staff Pose,[1] also known as Low Plank, is a Yoga asana, in which a straight body parallel to the ground is supported by the toes and palms, with elbows at a right angle.


The name comes from the Sanskrit words chatur (Sanskrit: चतुर्; IAST:catur) meaning "four", anga (Sanskrit: अङ्ग; IAST: aṅga) meaning "limb", danda (Sanskrit: दण्ड; IAST:daṇḍa) meaning "staff" (refers to the spine, the central "staff" or support of the body), and asana (Sanskrit: आसन; IAST:Āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat".[2]


In Chaturaṅga Daṇḍāsana the hands and feet are on the floor, supporting the body, which is parallel to and lowered toward, but not touching, the floor. It looks much like a push up, but with the hands quite low (just above the pelvis), and the elbows kept in along the sides of the body.[3]

When performed correctly, it can help prepare the body for arm balance asanas by strengthening important muscles and promoting good form.[4]

In vinyasa styles of yoga, Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana is part of the Sun Salutations Sūrya Namaskāra A and B. In the sequences it is performed on an exhale, and the dṛṣṭi दृष्टि is the nāsāgra (नासाग्र) with the face pointing forwards. In Sūrya Namaskāra A it is the fourth count (catvāri, चत्वारि), and in Sūrya Namaskāra B it is performed on the fourth, eighth and twelfth counts (catvāri, चत्वारि;aṣṭa,अष्ट;dvādaśa,द्वादश respectively).[5][6]

In yoga practice without vinyasa the asana is simply held for a period of time (for instance, 30 seconds) with continuous breathing.[3]


If unable to perform a standard Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana, it can be done with the knees on the floor.

Practice points[edit]

Some practice points that may apply are:

  • The elbows are bent, but not beyond bringing the shoulders in line horizontally with the elbows.
  • The palms should be pressed to the floor at shoulder or chest width (no wider) and just above the pelvis. [3]
  • The feet placed approximately hip width apart, raised on the balls of the foot, or the tops of the toes (depending on the phase of the sequence).
  • Tighten the thighs and buttocks.[3]
  • Elbows should be at the sides, even to the point of touching ribs.
  • Keep from rotating the arms externally (pointing the inside of the elbow forward) throughout (especially while lowering into Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana).[7]
  • Activate appropriate bandhas.[3]
  • Gaze toward the nāsāgre (नासाग्र) dṛṣṭi दृष्टि (tip of the nose) with the face pointing forwards.
  • Continue pranayama or appropriate breathing.


This asana helps to tone arm and forearm muscles[8] and develops flexibility and power in the wrists, as well as toning abdominal organs[3] and building repository muscles.[9]


Due to the unique musculotendinous nature (this joint is not a junction of bones, but rather supported by muscles and tendons alone) of the scapulothoracic joint and unusual mobility of the glenohumeral joint involved in movement of the shoulder and upper back, weak serratus anterior may lead to winging of the shoulder blades [10] in Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana and cause shoulder and/or elbow pain and/or clicking.[11] Particularly in cases were Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana or other chest strengthening asanas are practiced excessively, to the point of muscle exhaustion, which causes weaker, but anatomically more suited, muscles to hand their support responsibility over to stronger, but perhaps less ideal muscles; in the case of Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana the triceps and pectoral muscles can sometimes compensate for weak serratus anterior. This may require concerted professional help to re-educate the muscles and re-engage muscle action in the serratus anterior during such movements.[12]

Lumbar hyperextension and hip flexion is a result of weakness in this asana, which can be corrected by activating the hamstrings.[9]


The spine and sacroiliac joint are neutral. The hips are adducted, rotated internally, and exhibit neutral extension. The knee is extended. The ankle is dorsiflexed. The scapula is protracted [13] or neutral. The glenohumeral joint is neutral. The elbow is flexed, and the wrist is extended.[14]

The obliques, rectus abdominis and psoas minor work eccentrically to stabilize the spine, and the spinal muscles work concentrically. The hamstrings, adductor magnus and gluteus maximus work concentrically in the legs, while the psoas major, iliacus, and rectus femoris work eccentrically keeping the hip in neutral extension. The vastii and articularis genus provide knee extension. The gastrocnemius and soleus modulate the tibialis anterior to dorsiflex the foot, and finally the intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles are active.

In the upper body the serratus anterior works eccentrically to prevent winging of the scapula. The muscles of the rotator cuff include the subscapularis (which protects the front of the joint), and the infraspinatus and teres minor (which work to externally rotate the humerus against the pull of the pectoralis and coracobrachialis). The pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, coracobrachialis, and triceps work eccentrically. The pronators and the intrinsic and extrinsic hand muscles are also active.[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Yoga Journal - Four-Limbed Staff Pose". Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  2. ^ Sinha, S.C. (1 June 1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Iyengar 2005, p. 54-55.
  4. ^ "Om Shanti: A Yoga Blog: Chaturanga Dandasana: Wrist and Elbow Killer". Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  5. ^ " Surya Namaskara A - Sun Salutation from Ashtanga Yoga Practice". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  6. ^ John Scott (2008). Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series with John Scott DVD (NTSC) (DVD). John Scott. Event occurs at 5 min.+. ASIN B000BFHDY0.
  7. ^ Barclay, Maura. "YOGANONYMOUS: Chaturanga Controversy & Yoga Tune Up® Certification". Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  8. ^ Active Interest Media, Inc. (1984-03 - 1984-04). Yoga Journal. Active Interest Media, Inc. p. 19. ISSN 0191-0965. Retrieved 9 April 2011. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ a b Kirmanoff 2007, p. 183.
  10. ^ Long 2009, p. 162.
  11. ^ "Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed: Elbow Pain and Vinyasa Yoga". Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  12. ^ "Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed: Winging Shoulder-blades From Vinyasa Practice". Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  13. ^ Long 2009, p. 153.
  14. ^ Karminoff 2007, p. 182.
  15. ^ Karminoff 2007, p. 181.


Further reading[edit]

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