Chaturanga Dandasana can be a challenging pose for many people. It is often perceived by yoga students in black and white terms, in that it either “can” or “can’t” be done. The grey areas in between can be hard to identify whilst you are struggling to lift off the ground and feeling somewhat defeated. However this pose is still very beneficial and accessible for people who are not yet able to lift and support their full body weight.

This post explores a selection of Chaturanga Dandasana tips and techniques to assist you in building capacity and confidence. The variations and modifications presented below begin with preparatory versions of chaturanga dandasana. These will assist with beginning the process of building the required upper body, core and leg strength. As you progress there is a further exploration of techniques for troubleshooting common problems and adjusting the pose for those who just need a slight boost to get up and running. This post also contains technical details that will help more experienced students to refine and deepen their understanding of this pose. The techniques in this post are taught in detail in “Chaturanga Dandasana – Weekly Intermediate Class 180”. Click here to stream the video class. Read on to master how to do Chaturanga.

 

half dog pose

Variation 1 – Half Dog Pose

Basic Points

  • This pose is a good preparatory starting point for chaturanga; 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 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 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 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 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 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

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

1 Comment

  1. Sharon F

    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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