With all the sun salutations and downward facing dogs I've been doing lately, the four limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) has also been showing up in my practice. Is this the yoga push-up?
In my early days of practice, I recall not understanding how to do this pose. From a plank position, I would flop, for a lack of a better term, onto my stomach and flow into the next part of sun salutation, typically cobra pose (Bhujangasana). I had little control and maybe didn't really get that it was its' own distinctive pose.
Now, "chataranga", as I enjoy saying cause it sounds cool, is one if my favorite parts of sun salutations. The arm supported pose is similar to a push-up in position and action when lowering but typically the upward push with the arms is notably different. The hips slightly drop, the back arches and depending on your next pose the legs can be flat on the floor in cobra or elevated in upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). However, I've been in classes when the instructor cues moving up and down in this pose which is very much a triceps focused push-up.
Here is a short and sweet explanation by Lululemon (you might need to watch it twice!):
I also liked these thorough videos here and here demonstrating the precautions needed to avoid wrist irritation and injury. As well, this video discusses the importance to de-emphasize the role of the pectoral muscles with the focus on serratus anterior and the rhomboid muscles to stabilize the shoulder girdle.
Yoga Journal always has a good explanation with variations and progressions. Since it requires a lot of strength to do the complete pose, variations such as bent knees on the mat or completely lowering your body to the mat before proceeding provide excellent options that an aspiring teacher needs to know!
Chaturanga! I just had to say it one more time! :)
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.