3 Modifications for Low Plank Pose
Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Chaturanga Dandasana, is a common posture that requires strength and refined technique. If done incorrectly, over time the pose can put stress on the shoulder joint and lead to injury which is why we are offering a few alternatives. Experimenting with these variations and the choose what suits your practice best:
1. Drop to Your Belly
The beginner variation that Coco demonstrates in the featured quick tip video includes dropping the knees down. Come into high plank (top of a pushup position). Shoulders are directly over the wrists and the palms are flat. The heels are pressing back the belly is engaged. Tailbone is in the body. Top of the head is forward. Either with straight legs or with knees on the ground (depending on your strength level), keep the elbows hugged into the sides of the rib cage and your torso on one plane as you slowly lower yourself all the way onto your belly. This option will allow you to build arm and core strength without compromising the shoulder joint. From your belly, you can move into a baby cobra pose and then transition to Child's Pose or Downward Facing Dog to complete the Vinyasa.
2. Try Inch Worm Pose
A beginner variation of the pose includes dropping the knees down to the mat, keeping the elbows hugged into the sides of the rib cage and lowering the chest and chin all the way down to the mat. Your shoulders will drop below the height of the elbows, unlike the full pose. Keep the hips lifted. This variation is also known as inch worm.
3. Use a Prop
To modify with a prop, place a block underneath your chest while you are in plank pose. Place the block on the lowest or middle height. When lowering down to four-limbed staff pose, the block will stop you from dropping the shoulders below the height of the elbows. As you lower down into Chaturanga, allow the chest to meet the block. Pause here. Your elbows should only have a 90 degree bend, and your chest should broaden across the block. Slightly pull your shoulders back so you do not round forward.
Let us know which modification works for you. If you feel like you are ready to try a more advanced variation, read this article about common alignment mistakes in Chaturanga Dandasana so that you make sure that you are practicing safely!