Chaturanga Dandasana

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What is an Asana?  An asana is a posture that the body can take and there are innumerable such postures. Of all these postures, there are total of 84 postures that have been identified as “Yoga Asanas”.  Yoga asana was devised as a means to yoke the spiritual dimension of our life. We also know that yoga is an ancient science, which emerged as a method to elevate one’s consciousness. The Sanskrit definition of yoga is “yoke” or “union”, which refers to the union of the individual consciousness with the universal or divine consciousness.

When yoga asanas came to the western world, its spiritual element was stripped to a large degree and it was adopted more as a method for improving health, vitality and elevating one’s energy levels. Asanas are now  practiced to enhance muscle tone, build core strength, increase flexibility, range of motion etc.  The practice of asanas is also viewed as a good alternative to a cardio workout due to its versatility and benefits.

Of late the “Chaturanga Dandasana” has become quite popular. This is one of the more challenging asanas and not everyone can do it.  The literal translation of Chaturanga Dandasana from Sanskrit is – “Four Limbed Staff Posture.” It is an asana where all the limbs are touching the ground while the spine is kept straight like a staff.  To hold this posture requires strong arm, shoulder, back, and core muscles. So one cannot go into this posture without adequate preparation. Doing so can cause injury.  Even though it resembles a pushup, the technique is very different. This is a powerful asana that can build one’s overall strength and endurance.  There are workshops just designed to teach this one asana. Therefore, it is recommended to not do this asana without guidance.

Benefits of the asana are:

1) Strengthens the wrist, upper arm, shoulder, and the core muscles.

2) Builds physical resilience.

3) Can stabilize the breathing due to the difficulty level of asana.

4) Stabilizes the core which is a good support to the spine.

5) Prevents early onset of back pain.

6) Tones the upper body and core muscles.

This pose should be avoided in case of wrist and other muscle injury, carpel tunnel syndrome, pregnancy, heart issues and other chronic conditions.  As this is a difficult asana, before attempting it consult the doctor.

Yoga is a powerful system that can deliver tremendous benefits and transform us.  So it should not be approached casually or like a cardio exercise. Yoga asanas are designed for precision in the posture along with breath alignment. The combination of breath and the posture not only regulates the blood flow, but most importantly channels the energy into well established pathways.  Doing it incorrectly can cause muscle injury and disturbs the flow of energy, which in turn can harm the internal organs.  So it is critical to exercise caution while doing an asana like the Chaturanga Dandasana.

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