chaturanga dandasana (four limbed staff pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana – Tips and Techniques

Mastering the Four Limbed Staff Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana, also known as the Four Limbed Staff Pose, can pose a challenge for many yoga practitioners. While it may appear as a binary pose—either achievable or unattainable—there are nuances and variations that make it accessible to a wider range of individuals. In this article, we will explore tips and techniques to help you build capacity, confidence, and mastery in Chaturanga Dandasana.

Preparatory Versions: Building Strength and Stability for Chaturanga Dandasana

To begin your journey towards mastering Chaturanga Dandasana, it’s essential to start with preparatory versions of the pose. These variations focus on developing the necessary strength in your upper body, core, and legs. By gradually building these foundational muscles, you lay the groundwork for success in the full expression of the pose.

Troubleshooting Common Problems: Adjustments and Modifications

As you progress in your practice, it’s common to encounter challenges in Chaturanga Dandasana. However, with the right adjustments and modifications, you can overcome these obstacles and continue to advance. This article provides techniques to troubleshoot common issues, allowing you to refine your form and find stability in the pose.

Fine-tuning Technique: Deepening Your Understanding

For more experienced yoga students, Chaturanga Dandasana offers an opportunity for refinement and deepening of their practice. This article includes technical details that will enhance your understanding of the pose, enabling you to refine your alignment and take your practice to new heights.

half dog pose

Variation 1 – Half Dog Pose

Basic Points

  • This pose is a good preparatory starting point for chaturanga dandasana; It shares many of the key actions without being weight bearing
  • Place your hands to the wall at hip height and make a right angle shape as you walk your feet back under your hips
  • Keep your hands shoulder width apart

Key Actions

  • Press your hands firmly and evenly into the wall
  • Press the inner edge of each finger to the wall
  • Lift your elbows upwards
chaturanga to the wall

Variation 2 – Chaturanga Dandasana To The Wall

Basic Points

  • This variation allows those still building their strength to realise the key action points of chaturanga
  • Stand an arm’s length away from the wall
  • Place your hands to the wall at chest height
  • Raise your heels and come onto the balls of your feet
  • Make a straight line from your shoulders, through your pelvis and to your ankles
  • Start to bend your elbows to bring your forehead towards the wall, whilst keeping your body in a straight line

Key Actions

  • As your elbows bend, ensure they point directly downwards
  • Press the inner edge of each finger firmly to the wall
  • Draw the outer elbows down towards the floor
  • Contain the front thighs and draw them back into the body
  • Contain the back of the pelvis and move the tail bone in
  • Resist your shoulders down away from the ears and lift your chest upwards
chaturanga with chairs

Variation 3 – Chaturanga Dandasana With Chairs

Basic Points

  • This variation reduces the workload on the arms
  • Place two chairs to face each other
  • The chairs need to be wide enough apart so that you can place your hands in the centre of each chair and have your hands shoulder width apart
  • Elbows straight and shoulders over the wrists
  • Keeping your toes tucked under, bend your elbows whilst making a straight line from the shoulders, through to the pelvis and ankles

Key Actions

  • Tuck the elbows in to the sides of your torso and ensure they face directly backwards
chaturanga with hands on blocks

Variation 4 – Chaturanga Dandasana With Hands On Blocks

Basic Points

  • This variation is a link between the chair variation and the full pose
  • Place your blocks by the sides of your chest
  • Place your hands on the blocks with your wrists under your elbows
  • Tuck your elbows in
  • Allow your inner forearm to lightly touch the side of your torso
  • Tuck your toes under

Key Actions

  • Lift your shin bones up
  • Contain the fronts of the thighs
  • Move your tail bone in to the body
  • Maintain a straight line from the shoulders to the pelvis and the ankles
  • Keep your navel lifting to help keep your pelvis in line
  • Look forwards to the floor in front of you
  • Move your chest in that direction
chaturanga with blocks under shoulders

Variation 5 – Chaturanga Dandasana With Blocks Under Shoulders

Basic Points

  • This variation of the pose will highlight the work of the core muscle group
  • Start lying on your front
  • Place the blocks under the front of your shoulders
  • Each block is turned on a 45 degree angle
  • Place the hands under the elbows

Key Actions

  • Allow the blocks to support your upper body
  • Lift your pelvis off the floor and create a straight line from the shoulders, through the pelvis to the ankles
  • Tuck your tail bone in
chaturanga with blocks under chest and pelvis

Variation 6 – Chaturanga Dandasana With Blocks Under Chest and Pelvis

Basic Points

  • This variation will be helpful for people who find that their tail bone tends to lift when attempting the pose
  • Place a block on it’s side edge under the centre of your chest
  • Place another block across the mat on it’s side edge, directly under the pubic bone
  • Place your hands by the side of your chest

Key Actions

  • Tuck your elbows in to the sides of your torso
  • Grip your knee caps
  • Open the backs of your knees
  • Move your tail bone in
  • Press your pubic bone firmly into the block
  • Remain in contact with the blocks but without collapsing your weight into them
downward facing dog pose

Variation 7 – Downward Facing Dog Pose

Basic Points

  • This is a transitional movement that will take you into full chaturanga dandasana
  • For those who find chaturanga difficult, it can be easier to approach it coming from “up to down” (from dog pose) rather than “down to up” (from the floor)
  • Hands shoulder width apart

Key Actions

  • Spread your fingers
  • Press the inner edge of each finger to the floor
hands over shoulders

Variation 8 – Hands Over Shoulders

Basic Points

  • Transition through to hands over shoulders
  • Keep your elbows straight and lunge the body forwards so that your shoulders sit directly over your wrists

Key Actions

  • Ensure that you keep a straight line from your shoulders through the pelvis, to the ankles
chaturanga dandasana

Variation 9 – Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Basic Points

  • Now you have arrived at the full pose
  • Ensure that you keep a straight line from your shoulders through the pelvis, to the ankles
  • Bend your elbows back
  • Lower your whole body towards the floor
  • Pause with your chest approximately 5 centimetres (2 inches) off the floor

Key Actions

  • Incorporate the same key actions described above
  • Activate your legs by keeping the backs of your knees open
  • Contain the front of your thighs
  • Move the tail bone in to the body
  • Lift the naval
  • Move the chest forwards
  • Keep your shoulders back from your ears
  • Let your gaze come towards the floor in front of you


Chaturanga Dandasana may initially appear daunting, but with the right approach and techniques, it becomes an attainable pose for practitioners of all levels. By starting with preparatory variations, troubleshooting common problems, and deepening your understanding of the pose, you can gradually build strength, stability, and confidence.

Try Our Online Yoga Class: Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

To complement the guidance and insights shared in this article, we invite you to explore our online yoga class on In “Chaturanga Dandasana – Weekly Intermediate Class 180,” you will receive detailed instruction on the pose and further guidance on incorporating it into your practice. Click here to stream the video class and gain a comprehensive understanding of Chaturanga Dandasana.

Explore Specialised Yoga Courses at Yoga Selection

The Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) class discussed in this article can be found on Yoga Selection is a comprehensive online platform offering a wide range of yoga classes, courses and resources, including specialised courses and classes targeting specific asanas.

As a Yoga Selection member, you gain unlimited access to our extensive video library, featuring over 650 on-demand classes. Additionally, explore a diverse range of courses, with two new videos released every week.

Experience the flexibility of joining live classes in real time, allowing for personalised guidance and support. Immerse yourself in a vibrant community that nurtures your growth and provides valuable resources for your yoga practice.


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Comments 6

  1. Some great suggestions. Most of my students hate it when I teach this pose and it is a real challenge for some; I’ll give these intermediate poses a try. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sam, it can be a very challenging pose for some, so having a way to access the pose more easily is great. Good luck with your students.

  2. My electrophysiologist forbids me from chaturanga (I have an ICD). This post may give me some ideas for working something chat-like in. Thanks.

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