Dandasana – staff pose is a very basic yoga pose. At the same time, it is for a lot of people harder than it looks. Be honest: how hard is it to sit up straight? The answer is: hard. I know I was struggling with this pose big time in the beginning. My hamstrings were so short I couldn’t even sit up straight.
I know I’m not the only one. When I still had my own yoga school – the Blauwe Parel in Tilburg (now part of YogaCentrum Tilburg – a lot of students who started with yoga couldn’t sit up straight with the help of their hands.
It’s a society problem and a generation problem. I use to substitute a teacher in summer who was teaching people of 50 years and over. The people in between 50 and 65 were all struggling with Dandasana. The older people had no problem sitting up straight at all. When they were young their teachers would hit them with a ruler if they wouldn’t sit up straight. Nowadays their is no attention in schools for posture anymore. Kids ‘hang’ in their chairs, come home and ‘hang’ in front of the television or their Playstation. As a result hamstrings become shorter and shorter, making an ‘easy pose’ as Dandasana a hard pose.
Getting into Dandasana – staff pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you
- Place your hands next to you on the floor to help you straighten your spine
- If you can sit up straight without slumping you can bring your hands in prayer pose in front of your chest
- Engage your abdominal muscles slightly
- Stay in the pose for half a minute or more
- If you want to check your own alignment you can sit with your back against a wall
Benefits Dandasana – staff pose
- Strengthens the abdominal and back muscles
- Improves posture
Contraindications Dandasana – staff pose
- Low back problems
- Tendinitis of the hamstrings
Don’t remove your flesh
A lot of yoga teachers give the cue ‘remove your flesh’ to free the sitting bones (ischium). The idea is that freeing your sitting bones makes it easier for your pelvis to tilt. I’m not a fan of this cue. I think our flesh (buttock) isn’t there for nothing. It protects the tendon of your hamstrings, which connects your hamstring muscle with your bone. If you ‘remove your flesh’ all the time you are exposing your tendon and sitting on your tendon. If you do a lot of sitting forward folds this might result in tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon). My advise: leave your flesh where it is.
Source: Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar Key muscles of Yoga – Ray Long Ashtanga – David Swenson Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati