The staff pose (Dandasana) in yoga is a foundational seated yoga asana that helps improve overall body posture and supports the alignment and form for other yoga poses.
Performing the Dandasana might seem easy, but there are many factors you need to pay attention to. They include activated shoulders and back muscles, correct posture, engagement of feet, and so on. The most crucial part of this pose is to keep your spine in a straight and upright position throughout the move.
How to do the staff pose (Dandasana) in yoga in the correct form?
To begin with, grab a towel or yoga mat if you need cushioning, on a hard floor.
- Sit straight with your legs stretched fully in front of you. Make sure to sit on your sit bones, and keep your buttocks pressed firmly on the floor.
- Flex your feet, and engage your thighs. As you do that, your heels might lift a bit off the floor, but try to keep them as rooted as you can for better engagement. If needed, you can bend at your knees.
- Place your shoulders on top of your hips, and keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- Stretch your arms straight, and put your palms flat on the mat on either side of your hip to prevent bending of your spine. As arm length varies, you can slightly bend your arms, or just adjust the placement of your palms.
- Breathe deeply to lengthen your spine.
- Stay in this position for a few breaths, with your legs fully active.
Stiffness in the hamstrings or a weakened lower torso can make sitting upright quite challenging for some people.
If your lumbar spine (lower back) bends or curves, adjust the pose by sitting on a stack of blankets or a cushion. If your hamstrings are stiff, creating a problem for your lower back and pelvis, you may try bending your knees. These adjustments will potentially help reduce the effort needed to sit up straight and tall.
Key beginner tips
If you're new to yoga and performing the staff pose for the first time, consider these tips, and keep them in mind.
- If it’s difficult for you to sit up straight, or if you have a curved back, simply do the asana by placing a folded blanket or cushion under your seat to lift your hips.
- You can also put blocks under your hands if your palms are unable to touch the floor.
- Allow your legs to bend if you find it difficult to straighten them, or if it’s challenging for you to straighten your spine.
Benefits of Dandasana
The staff pose (Dandasana) in yoga primarily stretches your calves and hamstrings and enhances spinal awareness.
If you're into any athletic activity that involves running or a lot of movement, you are likely to suffer from stiff calves and hamstrings. Practicing the staff pose can help enhance flexibility and also help improve your body posture. Additionally, it can also prevent sciatica pain; but you shouldn’t attempt it with a forward bend.
Mistakes to Avoid
To make this pose safe and effective and to prevent pain and injuries, avoid these mistakes when performing it:
- Do not let your legs rotate outward. Make sure they are straight and fully extended in front of you. Your toes should be pointed upwards, and the soles of your feet should engage with your breathing pattern.
- When doing the staff pose, don’t allow your lower back to bend or collapse. Maintain the natural curve when you are straightening your spine from your hips to your head.
- If you are performing this asana with your back towards a wall, make sure only your sacrum and shoulder blades are touching the wall and not your lower back.
Although it's safe and effective, the staff pose should not be attempted if you have injuries to your back or wrist. If you experience pain while doing this pose, stop, and breathe easily.
To make this pose comfortable, add props such as cushions and blankets to allow you to stretch easily, if you have stiff hamstring muscles. Also, if you're new to yoga practice, make sure to work under a certified yoga trainer, and consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.