Four Limbed Staff Pose

This month of October, we focus on practicing crow pose.  Arm balances are particularly challenging because they require strength in the arms and core; and openness in the hips, hamstrings, groin, and knees.  Today, we talk about a pose that strengthens the arms, wrists, core, and legs.  A pose that can help you prepare to fly in crow pose.

Four limbed staff pose or chaturanga dandasana is one of the basic poses we need to master, especially when we like vinyasa or other kinds of yoga that flows.  For me, this is one of the most challenging foundation poses because when I started yoga, I had very weak arms.  I couldn’t do this pose without collapsing on my belly and the alignment was all off.  I could not even do the modified version (with knees down) properly.  Even now, I still struggle with this full pose and I always come to this pose with extra mindfulness to ensure that my alignment is still there.  Perhaps precisely because this is a difficult pose for me, I find fulfillment in doing it properly.  For me, this pose represents strength and perseverance.

Once you master this pose, you will have all the strength needed to do the crow pose.  Of course, you still need to work on opening the hips, groin, hamstrings and knees!  And don’t forget to relax and let go with confidence.


Step by Step by Esther Ekhart :

  • From Plank Pose
  • Firm your shoulders flat on your back and make you back muscles strong. Take you tailbone in and firm the front of your body into the back of your body.
  • Rock forward a little over the toes, so you are projecting your body first forward and then down.
  • Look a little in front of you to keep the neck long. Keep the elbows close to the torso pointing back the whole time.
  • On an out breath lower the whole body as a plank to the floor, keeping your forearms in a right angle to the floor. Lower only as far that the upper arms stay parallel to the floor and that there is a right angle between the upper and lower arms. Lift the front of the shoulders away from the floor the whole time.
  • Tendencies in this pose are that the tailbone lifts up and the back collapses down. Think what a plank looks like and make the back of the body look like that as much as possible.
  • This pose is part of sun salutations / surya namaskar, or you can practice it by itself and hold it from between 10-30 seconds.
  • Release to the floor on an out-breath and move to cobra or upward facing dog pose. If you are strong enough and you can keep your back in plank (no collapsing) you can also push back up to plank pose on an out-breath.

Benefits :

  • Strengthens the core, wrists, arms and legs

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