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Four Limb Staff Pose (Chatturanga Dandasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
Throughout 2022, OM is exploring all the key poses that make up the Sun Salutation, yoga’s most familiar and graceful sequence. By Dr Kiki Morriss
Sun Salutation 2022
This month we are looking in depth at the fifth pose of the Sun Salutation sequence – Four Limb Staff Pose (Chatturanga Dandasana). In this pose you use the strength of your legs, arms and core to hold your body a few inches above the ground and parallel to it
MOVING INTO THE POSE
1. Start in Mountain Pose (first pose of the Sun Salutation).
2. Inhale and lift your arms into Upward Salute Pose (second pose of the Sun Salutation).
3. Exhale and fold at your hips into Standing Forward Bend Pose (third pose of the Sun Salutation). Move your upper body towards your legs.
4. Step your right foot back and lower your right knee to the ground into Low Lunge Pose.
5. Step back into Four Limb Staff Pose. Alternatively you can step back into Plank Pose (see below for this easier option) or jump back from Standing Forward Bend Pose into Four Limb Staff Pose (a more advanced option).
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
Your focal point (drishti) is at your nose or at a fixed point straight ahead of you. Alternatively, close your eyes and draw your focus inwards.
- Hold your upper body off the floor by activating the pectoralis major. Drawing your elbows towards each other will help you to identify this muscle.
- Simultaneously, use your serratus anterior to stabilise your shoulder blades and to stop them from winging upwards off your back.
- Draw your navel in as you lower into the pose.
- Press your chest forwards.
- Activate your rectus abdominus and psoas muscles to support your torso and pelvis and to prevent your body from collapsing in the pose.
HANDS & ARMS
- Hold your forearms at a right angle to the ground.
- Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor.
- Use your triceps to support your elbows and to prevent them from bending more than ninety degrees.
- Press your elbows back.
- Press your hands firmly into the ground.
HEAD, NECK & SHOULDERS
- Avoid lowering your shoulders too near to the ground as this will make them hunch, creating tension in the trapezius muscle.
- Activate the lower third of your trapezius to soften your shoulders away from your ears and make space for your neck
FEET & LEGS
- Press back into your heels.
- Keep your legs straight and stretch them back slightly.
- Engage the fronts of your thighs.
- Straighten your knees by activating your quadriceps and drawing your kneecaps towards your pelvis.
- Open the backs of your legs by extending from your heels to your buttocks.
- Stretch the back of your knees and the back of your thighs.
- Avoid raising your hips higher than your legs and upper body.
- l Extend your spine and keep your sacrum and tailbone slightly tucked in.
INSIGHTS IN FOUR LIMB STAFF POSE
- It is common to allow your body to sag in Four Limb Staff Pose. Focus on maintaining the position of your body in a plank position as you lower into the pose.
- Strengthens arms, legs, shoulders and back.
- Develops core strength.
- Improves posture.
- Boosts energy.
- Develops confidence and focus
VARIATIONS & MODIFICATIONS
- If Four Limb Staff Pose is too advanced for you, try Plank Pose instead. In Plank Pose your arms are straight or slightly bent and your body is parallel to the ground.
- Alternatively, lower your knees to the ground in Four Limb Staff Pose.
- Avoid Four Limb Staff Pose if you have wrist, elbow or shoulder issues.
“You only know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” Bob Marley
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