Stiff yoga guide: Dandasana

Time to take your seat.

We are on to the seated poses.


You’ll recognize some consistent themes, I suspect. The need to counter the point of these posts: stiffness. Even this pose, which might seem so simple, can be a challenge if the hamstrings and hips aren’t all that open and loose. (The pose also might not be that simple if you begin to think about the dristi and bandhas involved.)

There’s the tendency for external rotation of the legs to overwhelm the internal.

And there’s the ego-driven desire to get as close to the knees as possible on forward folds, even though that really just means one is hunching.

But first, the go-to disclaimer: These are tweaks I’m making, drawn from any number of Ashtanga teachers’ suggested modifications, as I try to find the fundamentals of the practice and maybe loosen up my hamstrings, among other parts, in the process.

For many, if not all, of these seated poses, it has been pretty typical during my recent run of practice to hold the poses for 10 breaths. After all, I’m emphasizing the stretch, so stretching the asana kind of makes sense.

For this pose in particular, as you can see in the accompanying photo, the risk of the external rotation is great; the feet need to be flexed and together. Not easy.

This pose is also — repeat after me — a bandha check. Again, check the photo. What it may not capture is the upward movement of uddiyana bandha here. I also doubt I have my hands that far forward; maybe I need to be thinking about that some more.

As I’ve been trying to find some fundamentals in the asanas, this pose has really taken on a more central role as the set-up for what’s to come. Determining how loose the hamstrings feel can happen here. Reminding myself of risk of externally rotating my way through the next handful of poses is critical. Keeping the back straight ahead of all those moments when I could hunch.

Everything that’s about to come is right here.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “Stiff yoga guide: Dandasana”

  1. Hello CC! Grateful for this blog today and every day. Has Dandasana become one of those poses that distinguishes newer practitioners from older ones? I’m told Sharath doesn’t call it during led classes; it is folded into Paschimottanasana now. When I first learned 12 years ago, it very definitely was the first pose in primary series. When I practice, I’ll still have my first teacher’s voice in my head…”Dandasana: Staff posture.” One of those little changes in the evolution of the practice. Cheers.

    1. Since you’ve tweaked my memory, I guess that does sound familiar. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a Led class with a teacher who has been through Mysore recently. But at the same time, I don’t often recall even more senior teachers calling it out — but as I’ve been practicing lately, I’ve been highlighting it to get myself set for what’s to come.

      It’s never had a vinyasa between it at Paschimottanasana — so I think it may always have been a gray area. (Maybe? I’m guessing.)


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