HOW TO PRACTICE Staff Pose IN YOGA (Dandasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Staff Pose
Staff Pose (Sanskrit name: Dandasana) is a great core-strengthening seated yoga pose that promotes good posture and healthy breath. It’s also a great preparation for more complicated seated asanas.
Staff Pose is a wonderful yoga pose for discovering and strengthening your awareness of axial extension (an active extension in the spine from tailbone to crown of the head).
Some skeletal structures and soft tissue tensions may limit your ability to sit upright in this yoga posture no matter how long you have practiced. Emphasize the importance of maintaining natural spinal curves and axial extension, utilizing whatever props you need to achieve this. To find your ideal spinal extension, you may find it helpful to elevate your pelvis on folded blankets. This is especially true if you have tighter hamstrings.
Benefits of Staff Pose
Do not be deceived by the look of this yoga pose. Although Staff Pose looks fairly straightforward and simple, it can be a real challenge to sit with a fully erect spine, especially if you spend extended time at a keyboard where shoulders have a tendency to hunch. When you press your palms into the floor and allow your spine to extend upward, Staff Pose presents a great opportunity to feel a spacious quality across your chest and shoulders and freedom in your breath.
When practiced with healthy yoga alignment, Dandasana strengthens both the spinal extensor and flexor muscles, which will contribute to healthy posture. It strengthens the deep muscles in the lower trunk that stabilize the spine, including the deep core muscles. It also develops awareness of axial extension. All of these elements together contribute to better posture.
When held for several breaths, Staff Pose can increase strength and stamina throughout the body. For some, the calves and hamstrings will also receive a significant stretch.
How to do Staff Pose
- Sit on a yoga mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Use your hands to pull the flesh of the buttocks back and away from the ischial tuberosities (sit bones), so you feel yourself sitting more directly on the front edges of these bones.
- Loop a strap around the balls of your feet. Hold the right end of the strap in your right hand, and the left end of the strap in your left hand. Flex your feet and gently pull back on the strap until it tightens. Use this tension to pull your chest gently forward while continuing to elongate the spine. Keep your elbows close to your sides.
- Firm your thighs and rotate them gently toward each other, keeping your feet flexed. Press your ischial tuberosities into the floor as you lengthen your spine. Visualize your spine being pulled upward from the crown of your head as you ground your sit bones downward.
- Draw your shoulder blades gently toward one another and onto your back, further lifting your sternum.
- Breathe deeply and calmly as you hold the yoga posture, ideally for a minute or so. Then release and relax.