Ashtanga Yoga Pose Explained

STAFF POSE / Danda = rod or staff

Dandasana is also known as staff pose. It is the “Samasthi” of the seated positions, which means that it is the “base” seated-positions. Your legs will be as firm and straight as if you were standing!

In the Ashtanga Primary Series, Dandasana is the first seated asana we encounter. It is achieved by going through a Surya Namaskara “A,” a sun salutation “A” and then from a downward dog, which is only held for one breath, you will attempt to jump through your legs into a seated position. If you can’t jump through, don’t worry about it! We’ll cover the modification later on in this post.


Benefits of Dandasana:

Dandasana strengthens the back muscles as it gently stretches the muscles in the shoulders and the chest. As it encourages a fully straight spine, it also helps to improve your posture. The aligned upright position also helps the diaphragm to move easily so it can help improve your breathing patterns and habits.


As Dandasana is entered through a Surya Namaskara, you’ll notice that the count below starts on Sapta, seven, instead of on Ekam, one.

(7) Sapta - Inhale - Jump through sitting with the legs extended straight out in front of you. Feet together. Place your hands on the floor, near the hips with fingers facing the feet. Pull your chin towards the chest in Jalandhara bandha, chin lock. Hold the back straight and keep the legs active by pulling the toes towards the body.

Hold the posture and breathe for 5 breaths.

The eye-gaze, dristi, is Nasagrai (tip of the nose).


Tips for Successfully Completing Dadasana:

Dandasana appears to be quite a simple asana. It can look like you’re just sitting down with a straight spine and straight legs. However, to complete Dandasana correctly, you will need to keep the entire body very active. The back isn’t simply straight, it is completely erect with the shoulders pulled down and away from the ears, the palms pressed firmly into the ground which activates the arm muscles, and with Jalandhara bandha, the chin locked towards the chest. Make sure that your leg muscles are fully engaged as well, with the toes pulled back towards the body. Imagine you are standing, even though you are sitting. This is the sensation of the legs as if the feet are pressed into the ground.


Modifications for Dandasana:

Generally speaking, if there is no injury, there are no modifications to Dandasana itself. However, to enter this pose one must jump through from a downward dog. Since that requires a lot of practice and strength, instead of jumping through, you can slowly cross your legs and sit down instead. From downward dog, you would act almost as if you wanted to enter a lunge, by drawing the knee towards the nose, and then gently set the outside edge of the foot in between the hands. Then draw the back foot to meet the front foot, and gently set the outside edge of that foot on the ground. You will be in a raised-up cross-legged position before you will slowly lower yourself to the ground. Please do not drop the body to the ground without using your muscles. You can hurt your tailbone this way. Use your arm muscles to slowly lower your body to the ground.