Level 1: Beginner
This pose may look simple, but anyone who has tried to hold it for a few breaths knows that it is a very active posture, and can get pretty challenging! With several benefits, whilst being very safe for most people, Dandasana is a worthwhile posture to include in your repertoire, and provides a good foundation for seated forward folds.
- Stretches and lengthens the posterior body (calves, hamstrings, spine and spinal muscles)
- Engages and strengthens core and abdominal muscles (rectus, transverse, external and internal obliques)
- Promotes improvement of pelvic/spinal alignment
- Promotes gentle expansion of the thorax
- Useful as a steadying posture to calm the breath
Contraindications/Cautions (consult your physician):
- Lower back injury/inflammation
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Menstruation- safe
- Pregnancy- safe, can modify by widening the legs and supporting the spine with bolsters under seat
- Start by sitting on the floor and extending both legs out straight, or as straight as they can go without pain. Do not lock the knees.
- Gently move the buttocks (junk in your trunk) out to the sides so you are seated on the sitting bones, with a neutral pelvis (tilting the pelvis forward engages the muscles of the inner groin- try and feel the difference).
- Ground down through the length of the legs, squeezing the medial surfaces of the legs together, and dorsiflex the feet back towards you
- Inhale and lengthen from the hips up through the spine and out through the crown of the head, draw the belly gently back towards the spine. Avoid collapsing in the lumbar region.
- Exhale and maintain the length in the spine, but relax the shoulders down away from the ears, soften the jaw, broaden the collarbones.
- Breathe here for a few moments and release the posture when ready by shaking out the legs and shrugging the shoulders.
- Support props (bolster/block/folded blanket) may be used under the sitting bones or under the knees if the hamstrings are too tight to straighten the legs.
- Beginners: start with the arms down by the sides, palms on the floor (blocks if they don’t reach) with the shoulders away from the ears and down the back.
- Next level: To increase the intensity of the posture, you can lengthen the arms upwards, shoulder-width apart, palms facing each other. Avoid if any issues with the shoulders.
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