Staff Pose (Dandasana), (dahn-DAH-suh-nuh)
danda (staff or rod) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: seated staff pose
Pose Type: Strengthening, Seated
Proper activation and alignment in Staff Pose invite you to find depth in this simple pose.
Staff Pose Fundamentals
Find your alignment and build your postural awareness in this foundational seated pose. Dandasana may seem easy at first, but there are many things you need to be aware of while practicing.
Staff Pose appears to be a simple seated pose. However, it requires you to strongly activate your entire body, from the backs of your shoulders, all the way down to your feet.
Once you do so, you will begin to see the true power of the asana, and how surprisingly challenging it can become when you hold it for some time.
Dandasana should be in everyone’s practice, regardless of their preferred yoga style. It teaches you to find alignment, which will prove to be useful for all other yoga positions. Furthermore, it is a preparatory position for virtually every other seated yoga pose.
For this reason, Staff Pose is often viewed as a seated version of Mountain Pose. It sets the alignment for other asanas, including poses like Seated Forward Bend and Bound Angle Pose.
The name “Staff Pose” quite literally comes from the resemblance of the ideal spine alignment to a straight staff. That could be the idea that guides you – keeping your spine as long and strong as possible, regardless of what props you may need to achieve that.
You will become able to maintain the same spinal awareness in all other yoga poses, maximizing their benefits.
Staff Pose & Energetics
Once you achieve the pose, a great benefit comes with it. You are allowing prana or your inner energy to freely flow, and you are stimulating your digestive fire, which will make you feel more energetic, refreshed, and powerful.
Staff Pose Benefits
- The main benefit you’ll gain from this pose is building postural awareness. That will come naturally with consistent practice.
- Stretches the lower back, hamstrings, the back of the knees, and the calves.
- Builds muscles around the hips, abs, pelvis, and quads.
- Allows you to work on body awareness, as you are trying to evenly spread out your weight, lengthen your spine, and keep your entire body engaged.
- Strengthens the knees, so it may help with knee pain and may also help with sciatica by releasing tension from the lower back and hips.
How To Do Staff Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Seat on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Keep your arms straight next to your body and place your palms on the floor beside your hips.
2. Bring your toes together, and keep a small distance between your heels. Flex the feet, actively drawing the toes towards your body.
3. Rotate your inner thighs towards the center to ground the legs and to activate your quads.
4. Move the flesh of your buttocks out to the sides to firmly root into your sit bones.
5. Open your chest and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. Draw the belly button in, tuck the pelvis slightly, and actively try to keep your spine as long as possible.
6. Hold the pose as long as comfortable. When you’re ready to release, simply relax your body and shake your legs a bit to relieve any tension.
Tips And Tricks:
- You can place a bit of weight on your thighs to keep your legs grounded, for example, you could use a bolster or a folded blanket.
- Flex your feet to keep your legs active – push the heels away from you, and draw the toes in.
- If you are leaning back, try sitting on a blanket to elevate the hips.
- We all have a slightly different arm length in proportion to the rest of our bodies. If your arms are long, you can slightly bend them. If you’re not able to touch the ground with a straight spine, place blocks or other props beneath your palms.
- Manage your weight evenly on both hips. You can try wiggling front to back, and side to side, to find this central position.
- To keep your spine long, imagine you have a string tied to the crown of your head, which gently pulls your entire body towards the sky.
- If it’s uncomfortable to keep your legs together, you can move the feet slightly away from each other.
- If the stretch is too intense for your hamstrings, you can bend your knees slightly, and place a rolled blanket underneath the knees.
Staff Pose Variation:
Staff Pose Variation: Supported Staff Pose
This is the most common variation for Staff Pose. Even if you’re not a beginner, it can help you find a greater length in your spine. It will prevent slouching, and help you tilt the pelvis forward.
To do this variation, simply place one or more blankets, or any other prop, underneath your hips to elevate them. Perform all other steps just like you would for the classic Staff Pose.
Staff Pose Variation: Staff Pose Against A Wall
If you’re not sure your spine is straight and want to improve your alignment, you can practice against a wall.
Simply sit in Staff Pose just as you usually would, but do it against a wall – so your sacrum and shoulder blades are touching it. Keep the head and the lower back slightly away from the wall to maintain the natural curve of the spine. If that’s difficult, you can place a rolled towel or a cushion behind your back.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Wrong Rotation Of The Legs. Your legs should be in line with your torso – and not turned outwards. Instead, roll the thighs slightly in, towards each other, to ensure correct alignment and engagement of the legs.
Lower Back Collapsing. The most common mistake in this pose is rounding in the lower back. Instead, want to keep your whole back long. Practice with your hips elevated or slightly bend your knees to maintain a good alignment in the spine.
Injuries and Surgery
Refrain from practicing the pose if you recently had an injury or have undergone surgery on your wrists or back. If you feel any sharp pain or tingling when practicing the pose, come out of it or perform a modified version instead.
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