Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Dandasana (Staff Pose)


What is Dandasana (Staff Pose)?

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Dandasana, or Staff Pose, is a yoga posture that is a fundamental seated yoga asana and can be practiced by all yogis for improved body posture and enhanced mental awareness. 

This posture is known as Staff or Stick pose because the shape of the spinal column is held straight and vertically upright – much like an actual staff or stick. This asana is known as the first pose in the Primary Ashtanga Yoga Series. 

In the Staff Pose, the practitioner sits in an upright position with both legs extended in front, with both palms placed on the sides of the glutes. 

It may look straightforward to perform, but the right amount of mindful awareness part can be quite tricky to master right away. 

The name Dandasana comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words; ‘Danda,’ which means Staff or Stick, and ‘Asana,’ which means Pose or Posture. 

Not many ancient Hatha Yoga texts describe the Staff Pose practice in detail as it’s practiced in modern-day yoga. 

However, there are mentions of Dandasana in the 19th-century Sritattvanidhi text (which features 122 hatha yoga asanas). But in this context it is a different pose that involves standing straight with the support of a rope. 

Sanskrit Name: दण्डासन                    Pronunciation: dun-DAHS-anna

Pose Type: Seated Pose                   Also known as:  Staff Pose or Stick Pose

Strengthens: Spine, Back, Tailbone, and Shoulders

Stretches: Spine, Tailbone, and Neck

Health Benefits of Dandasana

  • Improves body posture. 

  • Helps calm the mind. 

  • Relaxes the hamstrings, knees, and ankles. 

  • Tones muscles around the abdomen and hips. 

  • Enhances mental awareness and mindfulness. 

  • Improves digestive and reproductive system function. 

  • Strengthens, lengthens, and tones the back muscles.

  • Activates the Manipura, Swadisthana, and Muladhara Chakras. 

When to Avoid Performing Dandasana

  • Avoid if you have a hernia.

  • Avoid if you have spondylitis.

  • Avoid if you have a slipped disc.

  • Avoid if you have had a recent surgery.

  • Avoid if you are suffering from an injury in the hamstrings, core, or spine. 

How to do Dandasana (Staff Pose)

With the help of our team of expert yoga teachers and editors, we have divided this detailed guide into four easy parts below. 

Part 1: Preparation for Dandasana 

Start your Staff Pose routine with leg, spine, and hip activation yoga poses. 

The below asanas will increase blood circulation throughout your body, helping you perform the main pose without risk of injury. 

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) - This pose is the foundation of all standing yoga asanas and builds strong legs. This pose will help you activate your ankles, knees, and core in preparation for Staff Pose. 

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

To get in Mountain Pose, stand straight with both feet close to each other and keep your hands at your sides. Breathe gently and hold the pose for 1 to 5 minutes. 

2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) - This forward bending motion is an excellent way to activate your lower back and engage your core muscles. Uttanasana is an excellent way to warm up dormant hamstring muscles. 

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Continue from Mountain Pose by gently bending forward with your torso, slowly lowering yourself vertebrae by vertebrae. Start with an inhale, and bend as you exhale, reaching your forehead to your knees. Hold this pose for a couple of minutes before returning to Tadasana. 

3. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) - If you feel tightness in your glutes and inner thighs, this is an excellent pose for opening your hips and activating your spine. 

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Sit with your knees bent, and make a Namaste formation with your legs. Make sure your knees are close to the mat, and that your spine is tall. Hold your feet with your hands and maintain this pose for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Dandasana 

The following steps to practice the Staff or Stick Pose. 

Step 1- Start by sitting in the center of your yoga mat and extend your legs forward. 

Step 2- Slowly inhale to engage your core muscles and align your spine perpendicular to the mat. 

Step 3- As you inhale, bring your palms close to the sides of your glutes and gently press both your palms onto the yoga mat.

Step 4- Now, as you exhale, make sure your big toes are close together and pointing toward the ceiling. 

Step 5- Relax your shoulders and keep your gaze aligned straight in front of you. 

Step 6- Continue to breathe as you hold this pose. Focus on contracting and expanding your abdominal muscles as you breathe. 

Breath Awareness:

  • Inhale - As you press your fingers onto the yoga mat and align your torso with a tight core. 

  • Exhale - When you extend your legs in front of you and relax your core muscles. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Dandasana for 1 minute.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Dandasana for as long as you feel comfortable. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

Correct alignment is essential while practicing Staff Pose, especially if you are a beginner. Here are a few cues to keep in mind for a safe and effective practice of Dandasana : 

  • Keep your back straight: If your back is rounded or your shoulders are hunching forward, then you may not be able to feel engagement in your core muscles, and you might miss out on the therapeutic effects of this pose. So, as you inhale, your torso should be straight upright like a stick, starting from your tailbone to your crown.

  • Do not lock your knees: Locking your knee joints while your legs are extended in front of you is a common mistake. To avoid this, be mindful of your leg extension. Try to extend your legs by engaging your quad muscles and maintaining a minimal bend in your knees. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Dandasana 

After sitting in the Staff Pose, your spine needs to get back into its natural curve. Below are a few counter yoga poses to relax your back muscles:

1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): As the name suggests, this pose involves bending your torso forward and leaning your upper body on your legs. This way you’ll be able to relax your lower back, shoulders, and scapular muscles. 

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

To make this easier, you can place a bolster below your knees to minimize the resistance in your hamstrings and glutes for deeper relaxation. 

2. Purvottanasana (Reverse Plank Pose): If your spine and lower back were extremely tense after a long practice of Staff Pose, you can follow up with the Reverse Plank Pose. 

Purvottanasana (Reverse Plank Pose)

Starting in Staff pose, inhale as you engage your core even tighter, shift your upper body weight onto your palms, and lift your glutes off the mat with the strength of your arms. Stretch your tailbone toward the ceiling and maintain this hold for a few seconds. 

Dandasana Modifications and Props

Modifications are necessary in any yoga practice, especially for newbies and people who are experiencing health issues. If you struggle with sitting straight or you have knee pain, below are a few posture cues to try while getting into Staff Pose: 

  • Get wall support: Sit close to a wall and get your body into Dandasana. This modification is helpful if you have back pain issues. 
Get wall support

You can start by holding your body against the wall and sit in Staff Pose for as long as it feels comfortable. Once you gain some strength in your spine, add some blocks between the wall and your tailbone to slowly move away from wall support. 

  • Add towel or bolster: If you suffer from joint pain or knee arthritis, it’s helpful to add a bolster or rolled towel below your knees. 

Add towel or bolster

This Staff Pose modification will help you maintain a slight bend in your legs and avoid locking your knee joints, which may cause any further pain or injury. 

  • Sit on a cushion and add a yoga strap: If sitting with an upright spine for long durations is difficult for you, try adding a yoga strap and a cushion. By sitting on a cushion you can help your sitting bones feel more comfortable. 

Sit on a cushion and add a yoga strap

Now, loop the yoga strap around your tailbone and pull it with your feet forward as you extend your legs. The strap will stabilize your posture and assist you in maintaining the pose for prolonged holds. 

Dandasana Variations to Consider

Here are some Staff Pose-related variations that can be performed by any level of practitioner, depending upon your physical abilities and comfort. 

1. Urdhva Hasta Dandasana (Staff Pose With Raised Arms): Sit in a regular staff position and slowly raise both arms over your head. Make sure your spine, arms, and core are well aligned and engaged. 

Urdhva Hasta Dandasana (Staff Pose With Raised Arms)

Hold this variation for 60 to 90 seconds and feel the gentle burn in your shoulders and core. The longer you hold this variation, the stronger your upper body will become. 

2. Parivrtta Dandasana (Revolved Staff Pose): Parivrtta Dandasana is a seated twist pose, which helps to soothe any residual tension in your vertebral column. Start by sitting in the regular Staff Pose and slowly twist your spine to the side.  

Parivrtta Dandasana (Revolved Staff Pose)

Holding this pose for 60 to 90 seconds on each side increases the flow of Prana in your lower back and spine, which allows you to improve your range of motion and flexibility over time. 

3. Paschimottanasana A: If you want to go a little deeper in your Staff Pose practice, try this variation of holding onto your big toes with your fingers and resting your forehead on your knees. 

Paschimottanasana A

You will feel an immense warming sensation in your tailbone, back, and shoulders. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths and feel the flex in your back and leg muscles.  

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Level-Up Poses After Dandasana for Advanced Yogis

Below are a few advanced yoga asanas to try after you’ve mastered Staff Pose: 

Level-Up Pose 1 -  Utpluti Dandasana (Floating Stick Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 -  Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 -  Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)

Level-Up Pose 4 -  Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Forward Fold)

Utpluti Dandasana (Floating Stick Pose)

Utpluti Dandasana (Floating Stick Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)

Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Forward Fold)

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Forward Fold)

Similar Seated Poses like Dandasana

The following are a few more similar seated yoga asanas that you can add to your seated yoga practice: 

  1. Virasana (Hero Pose)

  2. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

  3. Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)

  4. Siddhasana (Accomplished Pose)

  5. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

Frequently Asked Questions about Dandasana (Staff Pose)

What does Dandasana mean?

Can beginners perform Dandasana pose?

Who should not perform Dandasana?

What is Chaturanga Dandasana?

What are the benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana?

Articles about Dandasana (Staff Pose)
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