Staff Pose looks easy, but dig deeper to discover the benefits of this pose which is the foundation for many seated poses.

Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Staff Pose (Dandasana)

Difficulty level: Easy

Benefits

  • Stretches the hamstrings and side body
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens the legs, abdominals, and back muscles.

Come to a seated position on your mat.  Stretch your legs straight in front of you.  Lift your right leg slightly off the floor and stretch through the heel; place the right leg down on the floor.  Do the same with your left leg.  Place your left hand on the inside of your right thigh and your right hand on top of your right thigh.  Rotate your inner thigh manually towards the mat.  Repeat with the left thigh.  Press your inner legs together “zipping up” the legs toward the midline of your body. As you maintain pressure in the legs towards each other, begin to press the backs of the legs down and stretch through the heels.  Keep the heels in contact with the floor to avoid hyper extension of the legs.  Flex your feet, flaring your toes towards your face if possible.

Place your hands slightly behind your hips with fingers on the floor, or palms flat (depending on your comfort level.  Inhale; on the exhale, roll your shoulder blades down your back, firming them towards the back ribs and opening your chest.

Pull your belly button towards your spine to engage your abdominal muscles.

Straighten your arms by pressing your hands into the mat, stretching the side body and lifting vertically through the spine and crown of the head.

Hold this pose for several breaths as you inhale and exhale deeply, maintaining the energy in your legs, abdomen, and through the spine and side body.

Variations:

Initially it may be difficult to draw the spine towards a vertical position.  Place a blanket or small pillow under your hips to lessen the angle at the hip.

To check the position of the back, do this pose against a wall with a small towel rolled up and placed between your hips and the wall.  The towel, your upper back and back of your head should gently touch the wall.  There should be a slight curve at the low back and along the neck, and these two areas will not touch the wall.

To deepen the stretch in the pose, place 1 – 3 pound sand bags on the upper thighs close to the hip joint to weight the hips towards the floor as you press up through the spine.

To increase the intensity of the pose, place your hands so that your palms are flat on the floor with your fingertips pointed towards your hips.

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