Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Setup and Key Actions
Start in plank pose. Maintain active engagement through your hands. Keeping your fingers spread evenly apart, resisting your thumbs toward your fingers, and your fingers toward your thumbs (like you’re clawing the floor), and pressing your index knuckles firmly into the ground. Shift your body forward a little, bringing your shoulders just past your wrists (but not so far forward that you feel like you’re balancing on your toenails!). Keep your shoulders as high (or higher than) your elbows as you bend your elbows.
Lower down only as far as will allow you to press back up (even if that means only bending your elbows a millimeter at first!).
While you don’t want to bend your elbows out to the sides like a traditional “gym pushup,” you also don’t want to squeeze them into your rib cage so much that it causes your shoulders to round forward. Try keeping a little space between your elbows and your rib cage—perhaps letting the elbows flare out just slightly so that they point toward the back corners of your mat). Prioritize staying broad through your collarbones and keeping your shoulders from dipping below the height of your elbows.
From here, you can transition into upward facing dog, push back up to plank, or use chaturanga as a transition to lower all the way down to your belly.
Practicing with your knees on the floor can be especially helpful for working with safe, healthy alignment in chaturanga.