Chaturanga dandasana is a pose that is most commonly used in a sequence of poses called the sun salutation in the practice of yoga. It may be referred to by its English translation, the four-limbed staff pose, or by other descriptive names, such as the low push-up. It is considered a difficult pose for people who are new to yoga because it requires a large amount of upper-body strength. Generally, it is a good pose for practitioners who want to tone their muscles and increase their strength, balance, and posture.
In most cases, chaturanga dandasana is entered into after the practitioner goes from a pose called downward facing dog, or "adho mukha savanasana," into another pose called plank. When entering into plank, the practitioner will have her arms straight and perpendicular to the ground, with her wrists under her shoulders. Generally, the practitioner's body and legs are held parallel to the floor and all of the weight rests on her hands, wrists, and toes. Once plank has been achieved, the practitioner will lower into chaturanga dandasana.
Typically, when entering into chaturanga dandasana, the practitioner will lower her body, legs, and arms. Her body and legs will usually be kept parallel to the ground, but her arms are bent at the elbows, holding a 90-degree angle. A large amount of strength is required to keep the arms close to the sides of the body. In addition, the practitioner should be mindful of keeping the legs, body, neck, and head in alignment. In general, this pose may be held for about 30 seconds or less before the practitioner enters into the next pose in the sequence.
One of the many benefits of performing a pose such as chaturanga dandasana is that it ads strength and muscle tone to the arms, abdomen, back, and chest. It is also a good pose to increase balance and improve posture. If a practitioner has problems holding the pose because of poor upper body strength she may drop her legs and use her knees to support her lower body. In that case, the practitioner can still focus on her upper body strength, and as that strength increases, she may choose to raise her legs again so that they are parallel to the floor.
As with many poses in yoga, chaturanga dandasana should not be performed by everyone. For example, since there is quite a bit of weight placed on the wrists, people with wrist injuries should not enter this pose. In addition, it is generally not recommended for pregnant women.