The word Dandasana is derived from the Sanskrit language wherein danda means staff and asana means pose. Dandasana, or the Seated Staff pose, is an ideal pose to promote strength and good form. The spine plays a crucial role here.
Yoga dandasana looks simple, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. It helps you to prepare for other more intense poses, providing a foundation for all the seated poses. It’s not just about sitting but about bringing your spine in an upright position that is sustainable.
Dandasana Pose – How to do
- Start with the Tadasana pose. Stand with your feet joined together, stretch your arms above your head, interlocking the fingers and balancing your body on the tip of your toes. This is a warm-up pose to help open your body before starting Dandasana. Hold on to it for about four breaths.
- Sit straight on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you.
- Settle your hips, inhale and start stretching the legs from the upper thighs to the toes and place the back of the knees and the calves close to the floor.
- Keep the feet straight, toes pointed towards the ceiling, and heels close to the floor.
- Take a deep breath once comfortable, and tightening the abdominal muscles, slowly raise the torso pushing out the chest, shoulders held back.
- Place the palms of both hands facing downwards on both sides or on your thighs, take a breath and rise by exhaling, chin parallel to the floor.
- Concentrate on the breath, on the expansion of spine and hips and on the contraction of the abdominal muscles.
- Start inhaling, and as you exhale, stretch the legs forward. Hold this posture for about 10 breaths if you are practising at the Intermediate Level and 18 breaths if you are at the Advanced Level, and only 4 breaths if at the Beginner’s Level, depending on the comfort of the body.
- Now open the eyes and relax the spine and the hips. Place the palms behind you on the floor, stretch the shoulders backwards and chest upwards, throw the neck back and relax the lower back.
- Hold on for a few breaths keeping the body loose, and repeat Dandasana practice.
Dandasana Benefits – The Science behind this staff pose yoga
Yoga Dandasana is highly beneficial for those with tight hamstrings and back stiffness. They stretch the hamstrings and calves and also the spine, which increases the flexibility of the body and grants a good posture.
There are various other dandasana benefits:
- It provides spinal and postural awareness, thereby building the habit of maintaining good posture and looking graceful every day of your life.
- It strengthens the back muscles and helps ease back pain.
- It helps cure sciatica and pulmonary diseases like asthma.
- Paired with correct breathing, it helps you relax and be more focused.
- It also stretches the shoulders and chest.
- It lengthens the legs as you stretch your legs completely from your upper thighs to the tips of your toes.
- It enhances the functionality of digestive and reproductive organs.
- It creates an awareness in the body as it manages to spread your body weight evenly from the hips to the chest and the thighs.
- Moreover, it can be practised any time during the day. All you need to do is sit on the floor, stretch out your legs in front of you and begin.
The seated staff pose is very good for runners and athletes who develop tight hamstrings and backaches.
Science Behind the Staff Pose Dandasana
This pose may seem quite simple, but the fact is it is a very intense one since it strengthens the shoulders, abdomen and upper back. It builds the core strength and is famously known as the foundation of all the seated poses.
Yoga Dandasana – Modifications and Variations
Sitting up straight on the floor, your legs extended in front, palms down on either side is easier said than done. Because when you are used to slouching in your everyday life, getting that erect posture is a challenge. However, challenges can be overcome. You can practice the seated staff pose even outside your yoga mats and keep a check on your body’s alignment even outside your yoga sessions. You can practice a few modifications to accommodate your body in a comfortable position.
There are props to help you manage the upright posture on the floor.
- If you have tight hamstrings, rounded back or difficulty holding an erect back, you may use a folded blanket or a pillow under your buttocks. The elevation will help remove tension from the hips and legs and make it easier to sit upright.
- If you have a back issue, sit with your back against a wall. Let your shoulders touch the wall but not your lower back or the back of your head. You may roll a towel and keep it between your lower back and the wall for support.
- If your palms do not reach the floor, use blocks. And if your hands are too long, you may bend a little from the elbows.
- If you are not able to maintain a strong posture, make use of a yoga belt. Let it go around your waist on one end and around your feet on the other. Adjust the length to ensure that your back is straight and your legs well-stretched.
- To support your sciatica nerves, you can also place a small blanket below your knees. It will facilitate sitting on your sit bones.
Tips for Beginners – Mistakes to Avoid
If you are a beginner, you need to be more careful. Having a trained instructor is the best because you will be guided properly and never push beyond your limits. There are some precautions you could happily use.
- Yoga Dandasana is not for you if you have a back or wrist injury. Any pressure applied on an injured part may cause long term problems.
- If you have any medical issues after the first time, consult a physician right away.
- Maintain a good balance of weight, which is to say, between the buttocks. Your pubic bone and tailbone have to be an equal distance from the floor.
- Begin the staff pose from feet up. To achieve perfection in this, start with aligning your heels, feet and toes going up to grinding your thighs and calves and then from aligning your belly, tailbone and pelvis, you move up to your arms, shoulders, collarbone and neck and finally to align the crown of the head.
- Avoid rotating your legs outwards. They should be straight in front.
- Make sure your lower back is not rounded. It’s important to maintain the natural lumbar curve while you stretch your spine.
- You may practice the Dandasana preparatory poses to open your hips and lower back before you begin with the actual pose.
Dandasana Breath Awareness
Dandasana Staff Pose may seem a simple seated beginner level pose to you, but it could lead to serious harm if not practised right. Breathing is vital in yoga moves, and if you don’t get this right, you won’t get the pose right. Let’s learn how to get the breathing right in order to get the full benefit of this pose and facilitate the spine to extend from the base.
- Breathe in: Pressing all the fingers over the floor, raise the upper half of your body upwards, pushing the shoulders back and downwards.
- Breathe out: Extend your legs downwards such that the calves rest on the floor while the toes are flexed and pointing up.
- Inhale/Exhale: Inhale while raising the torso, exhale while extending the lower part of the body.
- Engaging the abdominal muscles as you breathe in and breathe out helps to support the lower back while the spine stretches in Dandasana pose.
- Each inhalation should be focused towards the sit bones and each exhalation towards the abdominal muscles.
Dandasana or the seated staff pose yoga is the foundation for all the seated poses; you begin with this and then move on to others. Although it looks easy, it requires a lot of balance and the right posture. It helps prepare for more intense poses and brings your body in perfect alignment.
The Staff Pose Dandasana requires balancing of weight between the buttocks with the support of hands. 30 seconds of practice is more than enough. Do not take it beyond 90 seconds if you want to avoid injury or severe pain. It is best practised on an empty stomach early morning so that you utilize energy to its fullest. Preparatory and follow-up poses are important before and after the Dandasana for normalizing.
Regular practice of Yoga Dandasana gives you a good posture, fine personality and helps you stay calm and focused. The breathing activity helps to strengthen muscles while holding the correct posture. If you master the seated staff pose, you will be able to perform other postures with ease.