Pose Type: Seated
Staff pose, or Dandasana, helps the body prepare for deeper poses while enhancing focus. While this seated pose looks easy – as if the yogi is merely sitting up straight on the floor – it is actually an intense shoulder-builder and the perfect foundational posture for all seated poses, including twists. Dandasana is at it’s heart, the seated version of Mountain pose.
For yogis with tight hamstrings, this pose can be particularly challenging as it can be hard to get the alignment right. Tight hamstrings work to draw the pelvis toward the feet, which creates a rounding of the lower back. To avoid this, the yogi can sit on a folded blanket to create the right level of curve in the lower lumbar spine while the hamstrings stretch and lengthen. You can also use a strap around the balls of each foot to pull the chest and abdomen forward and gently increase the elongation of the spine.
Staff pose is most often used as a pose to establish the foundation for seated twisting poses, so it begins on the floor:
- Start in a seated position on your mat with your feet stretched out long in front of you.
- Use your hands to position the flesh of your buttocks back and away from the sitz bones, so you feel yourself more directly grounded with the earth.
- Firm up your thighs and rotate them gently toward each other. Keep the feet flexed with the toes pointed skyward.
- The gaze is forward and the spine is long with the crown of the head reaching steadily upward while a grounding motion pulls downward through the sitz bones and into the floor.
- Draw the shoulder blades gently together and down the back to further lift the heart center.
- Breath deeply and calmly as you gently hold the posture, then relax and release.
Dandasana is a challenging pose when the yogi puts the work into it. Really grounding the legs into the floor, engaging the thighs, flexing the feet, straightening the spine, rolling the chest open, etc. You can lift your arms up while holding the muscles strong for an even more intense practice.
Benefits of Staff Pose, or Dandasana
The benefits of this pose include:
- Opening the upper back, chest and even abdomen
- Improving posture and alignment
- Strengthening the core muscles
- Calming and steadying the mind
- Encouraging calm focus
The longer you stay in the pose, the more you will experience and the more your stamina in the pose will increase. Practicing the pose with a steady breathing rhythm will relieve stress and improve concentration.