Caturanga Dandasana - Lookouts


Caturanga consists in a series of positions and variations of that have in common the elevation of the body above the ground with mostly the hands and toes on the ground.



  • Caturanga (caturaṅga चतुरङ्ग) means 'four limbs (i.e., armies)' in Sanskrit. Skt catur 'four' is related to our four, L quattuor, Gk tettares, Russian chetverka, etc. Skt angam is cognate with Gk aggos (pronounced angos) 'vessel, bucket, wine-bowl, shell; womb', Middle Irish aigen 'pan', English ankle.  Aṅga अङ्ग is limb.
  • Danda means 'staff of support', hollow rod in Sanskrit.

Notes: The correct spelling is catur and not chatur.


Contemporary Western Synonyms

"yoga push up" or "low plank."


Caturanga is mentioned in the great Indian epic, the Mahābhārata, where in an episode the great sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) explains the rules of the game (Sanskrit) caturanga ; (Middle Persian) catrang ; (Persian and Arabic) šatrang/ šat ranj to the great Pandava prince Yudhishtira (Dharamaraja). Vyasa exclaims that the board game has four groups: hasty-asva-nauka-padata "elephant, horse, ship, foot soldiers." Thus the meaning of the name of the game, (Sanskrit) caturanga is not that it has four limbs but rather "army consisting of four divisions," referring to the division of the Indian army, where according to the Amarakosa, by the sixth century CE, nauka was replaced by ratha, thus: hasty-asva-ratha-padata "elephant, horse, chariot, infantry."

This asana develop the inner will (Ichā), motionless and silent. In this pose, there is a higher requirement of inner silence than in any other poses.
The inner will has the capacity to render the thought independent from the body. Indeed, during the posture, one must bind the thoughts and keep the pose until the body cannot hold anymore. This posture allows moving the mental barrier much further than what we believe the body is capable of doing. The body has much more capacities than first thought.

Ichā is like the bow that shoots life outward, giving it a loving purpose and direction.

Pose 1


Lying down on the stomach, toes in, elbows joined and leveled with the chest, hand jointed.
Upon exhalation, the body raises up on the elbow forming an angle from the hips that is neither high nor low. One must experience the rectitude, the stretch of the rod. The abdominal girdle must not be too tight.


  1. Eyes: The eyes must imperatively fix a point and not leave it. This visual anchor is a true support: one draws from it immobility and power.
  2. Breathing is the second support. It is nasal, audible and powerful. Full-lung retentions (FLR) are established and used to experience heat and energy spreading through the body. The exhalation must be mastered: it is slow and complete. The inhalation is a direct intake of energy: the focus is to draw an abundant quantity of Prana.
  3. Mula Bandha is the third support. It must be powerful, especially during FLR. It allows the condensation of energy in the whole body, and especially in the spine.

NOTE: the elbows must touch one another:


Then, be patient and lookout.


Pose 2



Lying down on the stomach, toes in, elbows at the level of the eyes, hands flat on the ground, forearms forming a right angle with arms.
Upon exhalation, the body is raised using for only support the hands, forearms and toes.

Anchors: See Pose 1


Pose 3



Lying down on the stomach, toes in, hands at the level of the chest so that the middle fingers touch one another.
Upon exhalation, the body is raised using for only support the hands, forearms and toes.

Anchors: See Pose 1


Pose 4 [Dynamic Pose]







Lying down on the stomach, hands flat at the level of the hips or slightly above. Elbows upwards.

Upon exhalation, the knees are raised, then the hips (upward and backward) and finally the torso.
The difficulty is to respect this order: it is as if the pelvic girdle controls the movement. The strong push of the hands renders the backward lift of the pelvis. The pelvis is then held in this position during several breathing cycles.

Anchors: See Pose 1

Then, in perfect synchronization with a long and controlled exhalation, still while fixing a point, the body is slowly lowered down in reverse order than the ascension (torso, pelvis, and finally knees). It is possible to establish an empty-lung retention a few centimeters above the ground before bringing the body to the initial position.


Pose 5


The body is resting upon both stretched hands, as if forming a log. The breathing is as follows:

Upon inhalation, bring a hand behind the back. Hold in FLR while insuring that the root lock is strong. Upon exhalation, come back on both hands. Upon the following inhalation, shift hands.

A dozen of alternate supports are done in this way.

Pose 6


Lying down on the stomach. The hands are ideally at the level of the shoulders or slightly below. The elbows are raised upwards, toes in.

Upon exhalation, the body is raised but only by a few centimeters, using only the hands and toes as support. Several breathing cycles are made.

Upon exhalation, the body is moved forward by propelling it from the toes. The toes are then stretched and flat. The body is still above the ground by a few centimeters.

Upon another exhalation, the body and toes return to their initial position, with the body still suspended.

A dozen of cycles are done.