In this post I’ll share with you the best videos to watch if you want to understand how to build strength for chaturanga dandasana yoga pose.
So, you’ve taken up yoga and you love it! But every time there’s a vinyasa you have to go through a chaturanga yoga pose and it feels as though it’s completely impossible? Maybe you can’t imagine ever being able to do it . . .
If you’re like me and you’re interested in learning yoga from home, you may have realised that you still need to find great yogis to teach you and that not all yoga tutorials are built equal.
My aim with this post is to save you from wasting time practising chaturanga in the wrong alignment (which I know I did for years) and share those videos which will help you to make true progress in this difficult pose which is present in almost every yoga flow.
Table of Contents
A Word on Yoga Platforms
Early on I chose to join Grokker as a source for my yoga teachers and I share my findings with you in this post about yoga lessons online with Grokker. But I left Grokker when I found I was doing more yoga than I could source on the platform.
After that I became a member of Omstars with Kino MacGregor and from there I moved on to Inner Dimensions TV with Travis Eliot, which I really enjoy and which has an incredible amount of yoga with various teachers available.
One of the things I like best about Inner Dimensions TV is the fact that they offer programs, so you can come to the yoga mat every day without having to search for a class for that day. Plus they offer a lot of power yoga classes, which I find great for building my strength.
I talk more about it in this post on my favourite yoga lessons.
What is Chaturanga Dandasana?
Chaturanga Dandasana is the Sanskrit name which, when translated, means 4 limbed staff pose. It’s a pose frequently found in vinyasa yoga, power yoga and ashtanga yoga where you’re horizontally aligned with the ground, suspended by your arms and resting on your toes, with elbows bent and upper arm aligned with the body while the forearms are at 90º with upper arms and body.
It’s used a lot in different yoga flows as well as in sun salutations and it takes a while to build up the necessary strength for the pose, maybe especially for any of us who are menopausal or post menopausal.
I’ve been working on building up my Chaturanga yoga pose for a long while and I’ve discovered that although it can take time to achieve the strength necessary for a graceful chaturanga, if you’re practising it with the wrong alignment (which I was), you’ll never achieve your goal.
I’ve looked through hundreds of posts, not all of them are particularly helpful. But when I’ve come across an accurate video with true alignment tips, then it has actually speeded up my progress noticeably.
So I thought I’d share the resources that have most helped me to build up arm strength and understand this yoga pose. I have updated this article to reflect progress over time.
There’s more to this intriguing yoga pose than meets the eye! I say intriguing because to me it is: I see small girls with no visible arm muscle doing perfect Chaturanga and looking as though they’re in a blissfully easy pose.
And then I tried to do it and it seemed impossible!
Edit: it no longer seems impossible, but I’m still working on getting lower and stronger.
Common Mistakes When First Wondering How to Build Strength for Chaturanga Dandasana Yoga Pose
There are several mistakes which are super common with students who are practising alone or who don’t get alignment corrections and by knowing what they are you can avoid falling into these mistakes yourself.
- Body isn’t in alignment: don’t allow your head to tip lower than your elbows.
- Your elbows should be tucked into your body; don’t let them splay out to the sides.
- Don’t sag your middle toward the ground: keep your whole body in one straight line, even when doing an adapted Chaturanga.
- Legs and core should be actively engaged.
- Push your heels actively away from your head to encourage an engaged body in plank pose before moving down into chaturanga.
#1 How to do a Correct Chaturanga Dandasana
The most helpful video I’ve found on how to build strength for Chaturanga Dandasana is this one by Lizette Pompa Yoga. The information is amazing for correcting your arm position and also in changing how you think of the pose.
She clarifies how the arm position works. Chatarunga isn’t the same as a traditional push up; your elbows should stay against your body, not sticking out like wings.
This was the first video which enlightened me on the true alignment but it isn’t a stand alone video, as there are more (shared below) which will help you to practise in a more productive way.
Originally, this was a stand alone video which didn’t build strength but now it comes as part of a series to help with that strength building. Below, I share the other resources I’ve found useful for that.
#2 How to Build Strength for Chaturanga Dandasana
Most sites, if you Google how to build up arm strength for chaturanga, just tell you to do poses like dolphin pose (which is great by the way) or sphynx pose – which in very soft and mild in comparison. But while these poses may help, they don’t specifically prepare you for Chatarunga.
So what’s a better way to build up your arm strength specifically for Chatarunga?
Well, I’ve found this brilliant video by Ventuno Yoga . It looks soooo easy but just try it and you’ll be surprised! If you can’t do Chaturanga, then you’ll find this exercise difficult and you’ll definitely feel and see the strength in your arms building up as you practise it.
#3 General Arm Strength and Toning
The third and final video for toning your arms comes from Boho Beautiful yoga. This is an incredible workout because it only takes 5 minutes of your day. It’s so short that you can’t even say, ‘I don’t have time to do it!‘.
It’s so short, in fact, that you might imagine it to be easy! But boy this is not easy!
#4 Complete Chaturanga Tutorial with Aaron Wik
The most recent addition to my collection of chaturanga workshops, this one perhaps has helped me the most of all. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to do modifications for so long I have actually built up a foundation on which to build?
Either way, this one has provided me with the most advancement-producing modifications for chaturanga. In this video Aaron presents 3 different modifications to help you master chaturanga.
Maybe you’ve already heard of practising chaturanga with knees down, but in this video he corrects this often misdone modification and explains how to do it while still practising the correct alignment.
#5 Superb Trick to Help You Align – Use a Strap for Chaturanga Dandasana
This video from Body & Shine Welness shares a great tip when you’re starting out with Chaturanga – to use a strap. Using a strap in this way isn’t practical in your yoga flows, but it is great for allowing you to experience what a correct chaturanga feels like without the physical strength.
How to Prepare for Chaturanga Dandasana
One of the most important aspects of building up strength is your mindset. If you go into this looking for instant results, you’ll most probably set yourself up for disappointment.
Mindset for Doing Chaturanga Dandasana Yoga Pose
While it will vary from person to person according to their fitness, age, diet and personal predisposition, building arm strength takes time and it isn’t visible every day.
The muscles need to rest and rebuild a little stronger each time.
One day you might feel stronger, and even be pleased with your progress only to find that the next day you feel as though you’re back at square one. You aren’t really back at square one, it just feels like that because you’re basing your judgment on results-based-observation.
Instead of looking for results, look at your yoga session as an opportunity to push yourself to your own personal limit (I like to call it your ‘line’) at that moment.
One day your line will be closer to you and another day it will be further away. Both days, all you do, is work to your own personal ‘line’. That way, if today you feel a bit tired and weak, you still feel invigorated and refreshed by your yoga (because you’re still going to your line for that day).
Yoga gives results in every moment that you’re doing it. But ironically, when you start looking for results, they can seem very elusive. Just today, as I was on the yoga mat, I felt as though I had never done yoga before, and completely low in energy. I told myself to accept myself and stay in the moment. The temptation to feel disillusioned was strong but if you can stay focussed, you won’t be at risk of ‘giving up’.
Another reason for not using results-based analysis is that whatever your stage, wherever your ‘line’, you’ll always be working to your personal limit. Even on those blah days. But if you feel you aren’t progressing as you should, you may like to read my post on how to progress in yoga and see real change.
That’s the beauty of yoga. It isn’t like some other forms of exercise, where you have to do more quantity as you become more fit or otherwise it becomes too easy. Yoga’s never easy. It’s always perfect for you and where you are in your yoga journey.
I hope this post helps you to build up strength for doing a great chaturanga dandasana yoga pose in your vinyasa flow and that you enjoy your yoga all the more!
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