Bird Dog Pose, Dandyamana Brahmanaasana
danda (stick) + yamana (balancing) + brahma (table) + asana (pose)
Also Known As: Balancing Table Pose
Pose Type: Balancing, Stretching, Strengthening
Stabilize from the core and find balance in Bird Dog Pose
Bird Dog Pose Fundamentals
Bird Dog pose is a strengthening asana, and is common in other types of body weight training systems besides yoga, including calisthenics and Pilates.
It also goes by the name the Balancing Table Pose, which comes from the literal translation of the Sanskrit name Dandyamana Brahmanaasana.
The pose involves balancing on one hand and knee in the Tabletop Pose, which makes it challenging for the core. It also targets the arms, glutes, and the back of the legs.
Some believe the English name of the pose comes from the British who encountered it in India, as it resembles a dog who aids in hunting birds. Table-top mimics them when they feel a scent of prey, and the lifted arm and leg when they lift their front leg and the opposite back leg to point to the direction of the scent.
The pose may not have a long tradition in yogic history, particularly its dynamic aspect – but it still has a lot of value in your practice.
What makes it tricky is balancing while still maintaining correct alignment. This can be more difficult than it seems – holding your body in a single line requires a good sense of coordination and proprioception. Still, that’s exactly what this pose will help you develop – so don’t be afraid to give it a try even as a beginner.
The pose is often included in sequences designed for improving spinal health. It releases tension from the spine and strengthens the core, and with time may aid those who strive to build a better posture.
The effort to find good alignment in the pose may help you enhance your body awareness and concentration. This may further help with developing better posture – with continuous practice- as the student becomes more aware of their form not only in yoga but also off the mat.
This grounding asana balances the Root and Sacral chakra, helping us build inner stability and creativity.
It may also remind us developing our yoga practice doesn’t have to include advanced asanas. Instead, returning to simpler poses and learning their nuances may also deliver great rewards for our yoga journey.
Bird Dog Pose Benefits
- Strengthens the ab muscles, lower back muscles, shoulders, and glutes.
- Elongates the spine and brings our awareness to alignment, which may help in posture correction.
- May aid with all back-related problems, such as scoliosis, and kyphosis, by stretching the spine and strengthening the lower back.
- Conscious practice may help release symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders.
- By working on the ab muscles, the pose increases core stability and strength.
How To Do Bird Dog Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Start in Table Top Pose. Take a moment to find the correct alignment, placing your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
2. Make sure your spine is straight – tucking the pelvis and engaging the abs will help you with that. Gaze towards the floor to keep your neck neutral.
3. Raise your left arm and try to keep it parallel to the ground, in the same line as the rest of your body. Actively stretch the palm forward.
4. When you’re ready, shift the weight to the left leg and lift the right leg up. Keep it extended and parallel to the ground. Engage the glutes and move your hip back down it if began to rotate up.
5. Take slow, deep breaths, and hold for as long as you can.
6. Release and repeat on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- Keep your hips aligned – move the hip of the lifted leg back down if it began to rotate.
- Don’t lift your leg too high – that will compromise the alignment of the hips and spine. Instead, move it back to parallel.
- Engage your core to maintain a flat back.
- Draw your shoulders back and down to avoid sinking in your chest.
- Fix your gaze on the floor, between the palms, to maintain a neutral alignment in the neck.
- Maintain a continuous, deep breath.
Bird Dog Pose Variation:
Bird Dog Pose Variation: Half Bird Dog Pose
While you’re still building stability and strength to reach the full expression of the pose, this is an easy way to modify it.
Instead of lifting both your arm and leg, practice with only one extremity. Depending on where you struggle most, you can either lift only your arm or your leg. Once you’re able to do so without losing stability, you can proceed to lift both limbs.
Bird Dog Pose Variation: Bird Dog Flow
Bird Dog can also be done dynamically, which is suitable for Power Yoga and other flows focused on building strength.
To perform this variation, begin in Bird Dog Pose. Then, bend the knee and your elbow and reach both towards your center, so they touch under your body. Extend them, and perform several repetitions. The number of reps will depend on your strength and goals, but make sure you do the same amount on both sides.
Bird Dog Pose Variation: Elevated Bird Dog
Also known as Bird Dog Plank, this advanced variation will increase the challenge of this pose.
From Table Top, lift your knees up, so your shins are parallel to the ground. Manage the weight on your palms and the balls of your feet. From this challenging position, try to lift your arm and the opposite leg just like you would in a regular Bird Dog.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Chest Sagging. Activate your shoulder blades and actively push your upper body up to prevent collapsing in the chest.
Curving the spine. Tuck the pelvis and engage the abs to avoid curving your lower spine and hips too much. Rather than resembling Cow Pose, your spine should be neutral.
Injuries and Conditions
Avoid Bird Dog pose if you have an injury or chronic pain in the shoulders, back, or hips.
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