How to do Dandasana
The below cues and yoga sequences added by yoga teachers show multiple ways to do Dandasana depending on the focus of your yoga sequence and the ability of your students.
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Set yourself up-blocks with blankets (block sideways) legs wider apart, support under knees if needed Upright position feet flexed to activate the le... ...
A. Release and come to sit in Dandasana or Staff Pose, stretching the legs out completely. B. Bring the legs to relax completely, while focusing ju... ...
Sit up and move into staff pose, sit up with a straight spine. ...
1. Flip yourself to Dandasana 2. Extend legs in front of you 3. Strongly engage your thigh muscles around your thigh bones 4. Press down your hee... ...
* Extend your feet out in front of you. * Come up onto the sitting bones. * Flex the toes and root the heels down. * Place your hands on the gro... ...
* Sit on floor with legs stretched out. * Cross one foot over the other leg leg anywhere it will meet the floor. * Hug the opposite arm around the b... ...
Exhale, extend your legs out. Flex & point toes. ...
Lower hips to the floor and come up to a seated ...
Rise up through plank to downdog and then jump or walk through to seated ...
Extend your feet out in front of you. Come up onto the sitting bones. Flex the toes and root the heels down. Place your hands on the ground next to y... ...
Extend the legs out for ankle & wrist rotations. Reverse the movement. ...
A. Sit back kicking legs out into Staff. B. Close your eyes and take your attention to the base of the spine. ...
extend legs straight, keeping spine straight, and crown of head reaching up. ...
Slowly come up out of the pose swing your feet to one side and come to a seat with your legs streached out in front of you, staff pose. You can sit on... ...
Discover more cues, teaching ideas, and how to do steps at How to Do Dandasana
Dandasana is the foundation of many seated yoga poses and practicing this pose, before one goes along with the practice of other seated poses, is important. Some of the main benefits derived with the right way of bringing the practice of Dandasana is given below.
- Lengthens the legs: In this pose one needs to bring the legs stretched out completely from the upper thighs to the tips of the toes. This stretch ensures the entire back of the legs is close to the floor and gradually lengthens the legs toning them.
- Body Awareness: This posture works on creating awareness in the body. One needs to make sure that the entire weight of the body is not at the hips but evenly spread out carrying it to the chest and the thighs. This conscious effort brings awareness to the entire body.
- Stretches the back muscles and strengthens them: Expanding the upper body upwards and the lower body forward brings a lot of stretch to the lower back close to the hip and hence this stretches the back muscles, toning it and strengthening it.
- Teaches you to sit properly and keeps you grounded: Dandasana gives you the feeling of grounding as the hips need to be flexed well enough to keep the torso perpendicular to the floor like most seated yoga poses ...
As this is a very simple seated pose, not much can be spoken about contraindications. But one can say that if the thighs hurt during stretching and also causing sciatica, or if the lower back does not give the support and is extremely stiff, then one could take precautions while practicing this pose.
Dandasana Variations: Below are some common variations of the yoga pose Dandasana with base pose as Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- Begin by standing with feet together and practice Tadasana by stretching the arms above your head interlocking the fingers and balancing your body on the tip of your toes. This pose will help in opening the entire body with the upwards movement of the torso and act as a warm up before starting Dandasana. Stay here for about four breaths.
- Sit on the floor stretching your legs out in front of you, adjusting your buttocks to make sure you are seated on your sit bones.
- When the hips are well settled, inhale and begin to stretch the legs from the upper thighs downwards upto the tips of your toes and begin to place the back of the knees and the claves close to the floor.
- Keeping the feet straight with toes pointing towards the ceiling and heels close to the floor lengthen the hamstrings.
- Once comfortable with the stretch at the lower body, inhale and bring the tummy in and tightening the abdominal muscles raise the torso upwards slowly pushing the chest out and shoulders behind you.
- Placing the hands on the floor besides you, palm facing downwards, or placing the palms on your thighs, stretch completely upwards taking a breath and complete by exhaling and keeping the chin parallel to the floor.
- Keeping in mind that the entire torso is perpendicular to the floor, don’t bring pressure to the hips or the shoulders. Relax the muscles still keeping them stretched.
- Bring the mind along with the breath to the expansion of the spine and the hips and contracting the abdominal muscles.
- Close your eyes once the entire body is under control and begin slow breathing relaxing the facial muscles.
- Start inhaling and as you exhale expand upwards and stretch the legs forward. Stay here for about 10 breaths if you are practicing at the Intermediate Level and 18 breaths if you are at the Advance Level. If at the Beginner’s Level at least 4 breaths or more as per the comfort of the body.
- After staying at Staff Pose for a few breaths, open the eyes and relax the spine and the hips and placing the palms behind you on the floor stretch the shoulders backwards and chest upwards and throw the neck back and relax the lower back.
- Stay here for a few breaths keeping the body loose and repeat Dandasana practice.
The simple steps taken to bring comfort during the practice of Staff Pose are as under.
- Bring the hips a bit raised from the floor by sitting on a blanket to give the lower back the support.
- If the sit bones is not supporting your back, bring the back to a wall support or against a chair or sofa.
- Taking your feet slightly apart if there is unstable feeling at your feet and heels.
- Bring a small blanket below your knees, which will act as a support for the thighs and the hip and help you to sit on your sit bones. This support will support the sciatic nerves.
- Using a yoga belt around your waist and feet to help you to stretch the legs out and keep the posture looking strong and good. Let the yoga belt go around your waist and placing the other end around the feet, pull at the feet adjusting the length of the belt. This will ensure the back is straight and the legs muscles get their stretch.
- If you find the arms not reaching the floor, one could use yoga blocks placed close to your outer hips and place the palms on these blocks.
Dandasana Yoga Sequence Preparatory Poses
Some basic upper body movements to open the hips and the lower back in sequence before the practice of Staff Pose are given below.
- Urdhva Hastasana (Palm Tree Pose): Standing with feet together, raise the arms interlocking your fingers above your shoulders and head and balance your body on your toes feeling the stretch at the entire back. Raise exhaling and not inhaling. Remain in this stretch for about 6 breaths and relax bringing the body down.
- Katichakrasana (Waist Rotating Pose): This simple stretch standing with feet together will open the upper body and help in expanding the entire back for Dandasana. Placing the right arm over the left shoulder and the left arm around the waist from behind twist the upper torso towards the left turning the head backways. Feel the stretch as you exhale and use the core muscles to twist. This pose will help in opening the middle back and the shoulders. Stay here on one side for about six breaths, release and then twist the other way.
- Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana): This bending posture with the back bend with ease the lower back muscles giving good support for the practice of Staff Pose. Standing with feet together, place the hands on the hips behind you at the lower back and as you inhale stretch the upper torso backwards and downwards throwing the neck back and expanding the chest upwards. Hold here for about 6 breaths or as per your comfort. Use the chest and the abdominal muscles to balance the body and take the stretch deeper.
- Standing Pelvic Circle: This simple stretch of the rotation of the hips in circles will open the lower back muscles and the hamstrings. Work on this stretch with full movement of the hips on all four sides, that is, left, right, front and back. Do this rotation clockwise for four rounds and anti clockwise for four rounds.
Dandasana Yoga Sequence Relaxing Follow-up Poses
Right after the practice of Dandasana, bring the feet apart and throw the ankles loose sideways and placing the hands on the floor behind you, stretch the shoulders and the chest backwards throwing the head back slowly and relax the entire body. Without putting pressure on the wrists, relax the lower back by pushing the hip inwards and the chest outwards. Stay here for about 6 breaths before the second round of practice of Dandasana.
Dandasana Yoga Sequence Level Up Follow-up Poses
If Staff Pose is practiced at the Beginner’s Level, one could take the practice to the next level by practicing Paschimottanasana. But in most cases, Dandasana or Staff Pose is considered as a Relaxing Seated Pose practiced after the sequence of many seated intense poses. At the Advance Level if Dandasana is practiced, then one could go further with the practice of Akarna Dhanurasana (Shooting Bow Pose), Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) and its variations, Tolangulasana, where the core muscles are at maximum use. Dandasana here is also practiced as a relaxing pose after the practice of the above mentioned poses.
Dandasana Breath Awareness
Though Dandasana seems to be a simple seated beginner level yoga pose, it still can be practiced wrong if the breathing is not learnt right. To avoid this, given below is the guidance to get the breathing right in order to enjoy the benefits of Staff Pose:
- Inhale: Press all the fingers towards the floor, raise and extend the torso upwards taking the shoulders back and down.
- Exhale: Extend the legs downwards making sure the claves rest of the floor and stretch the toes pointing up.
- Inhale/Exhale: Inhale to take the torso up, exhale to extend the lower part of the body.
- Engaging the abdominal muscles during inhalation and exhalation helps to support the lower back, keeping the spine extended in Dandasana.
- With every inhalation the focus is the sit bones, and with every exhalation the focus is the abdominal muscles.
Note: A good practice of Dandasana is influenced with the right breathing, the pattern of breathing should encourage the spine to extend from the base (lower back).
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Dandasana Titles in English and Sanskrit
Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translation or a specific title becoming popular because of it's common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Dandasana:
- Staff Pose
- Stick Pose