Derived from the word danda = staff, and asana = pose. Thus, Dandasana means “Staff Pose”.
How to perform Dandasana
1. Sit on the ground with your legs placed together, stretched out in front of you. If you feel that your body is leaning back, it may be due to the range of your hamstrings dragging the sitting bone in the direction of the knees and the back of the pelvis in the direction of the ground. This may be causing a posterior tilt to your pelvis which can cause slight lower back pain. If this is the case, you may find it helpful to sit on one or two folded blankets so as to lift the pelvis and gain an anterior pelvic tilt rather than a posterior tilt. Everyone can benefit from this slight forward pelvic tilt.
2. You can sit your spine up against the wall and get some better proprioceptive feedback, checking the alignment of your torso by pressing your back against the wall. While sitting in this manner, your shoulder blades and sacrum should touch the wall; however, the lower back and the back of the head may not touch the wall and having the head and lower back touch the wall is not the goal.
3. Lift the buttocks flesh away from sit bones and tilt forward, ensuring that you are sitting towards the front end of the sitting bones and that the tail bone and pubis are at an equal distance from the ground. While keeping the belly soft, firm your thighs and push them down against the ground (or blanket), turn them slightly towards each other and bring the inner groins in the direction of the sacrum. Dorsiflex your ankles, bringing your toes towards your knees and press down through your heels, whilst pulling the heels slightly back towards the sit bones. This creates a resistance stretch that will improve the extensibility or flexibility of the hamstrings.
4. To stretch the front portion of your body at right angles to the ground, think as if some energy is moving in the upward direction from the pubis to the sternum and then down from the shoulders to the tailbone. Stretch along your side waists also, lifting from your hips to the shoulders, stretching the muscles between the ribs to improve your breathing capacity. Then imagine that your tailbone is reaching the earth, grounding downwards.
5. Imagine that your spine is a staff at the vertical core of your body and is rooted firmly in the Earth, and is the support pivot of whatever you do. Stay in the pose for 60 seconds or longer.
- It helps in strengthening the muscles of the back (Guner & Inanici, 2015).
- It helps in stretching the muscles of the chest and shoulders (Guner & Inanici, 2015).
- It has therapeutic benefits in relieving the symptoms of sciatica when practiced correctly.
- It helps in improving posture (Guner & Inanici, 2015), stretching the diaphragm, which will in turn improve mental health by improving breath ratios, which are often composed when mental health issues arise.
- This pose, amongst others, is helpful in improving diastolic blood pressure and reducing stress (Cowen & Adams, 2005).
- If practiced on the EARTH (without a rubber mat) it may help in grounding or “earthing” the body, which is proven to have benefits in reducing inflammation, pain reduction, improved blood flow and may reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (Pilot study by Dick Brown, Phd).
- It is said to control apana vayu – the flow that governs womens rhythms, male sexual organs and the lower colon and bladder.
- The posture of the head over heart will improve the flow of prana through chitta nadi, the energy consciousness that flows between heart and head. This in turn is said to help use our heart to flow through life, not our head.
- It will open the heart space (anahata akash, hridaya marma points) and lungs (apalapa marma points).
- If you bring attention to the back body, it is said you can induce the relaxation response more freely. The spine often holds the memory of fear (vata), increasing sympathetic tone, and the flight, fight, freeze response can be observed in the back body. Bringing attention and consciousness to the area can mindfully reduce the fear or trauma that is stored in the back body, helping us to soften the muscles and feel safe. “Neuroception” is the term used to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous or life-threatening. We develop this sense of neuroception through being aware and present to the moment and what is truly happening right now.
Contradictions and Cautions
- Individuals suffering from any wrist injury or lower back injury should be mindful when performing the pose.
Follow up Poses
- Bharadvajasana I
Lay a bolster or a sandbag across the top of your thigh at the hip crease to help ground your thighs. Alternatively, bend the knees slightly to support the knees and /or back.
You may sit on the edge of a bolster to get more height or on the edge of a chair with legs outstretched diagonally to the floor.
Cowen, V. S., & Adams, T. B. (2005). Physical and perceptual benefits of yoga asana practice: Results of a pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 9(3), 211–219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2004.08.001
Guner, S., & Inanici, F. (2015). Yoga therapy and ambulatory multiple sclerosis Assessment of gait analysis parameters, fatigue and balance. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 19(1), 72–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2014.04.004