In my two decades teaching yoga, I have observed Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank) as the most misunderstood asana in yoga.  It is often understood and practiced as a transitionary action rather than a posture in its own right. This challenging asana develops strength in the entire body, including the core, wrists, arms and legs, but technique and alignment are essential to avoid shoulder injury. If you have any shoulder or wrist injuries, it’s best to avoid this asana and practice Eight-Limbed Staff Pose instead.

Pose Breakdown:

  • Starting from Plank Pose (Phalakasana) firm your shoulder blades flat on your back and firm up your back muscles. Engaging uddiyana bandha and mula bandha by pulling the navel towards the spine and lifting the pelvic floor.
  • Rock slightly forward, over the toes, so you are projecting your body forward and gaze forward to keep the neck long. 
  • On an out-breath, lower the whole body like a plank only so far, that the upper arms stay parallel to the floor and that there is a 90° angle in your elbows. Keep the elbows close to the ribs, and lift the front of the shoulders away from the floor making sure the chest and shoulders don’t dip lower than the elbows. 
  • Transition out of the posture without collapsing the low back.  Keep the core engaged and transition back to Plank, or Upward-Facing Dog, or simply lower yourself to the earth, and then lift the heart for cobra pose, or send the hips back to the heels for childs pose.