How to Do Staff Pose in Yoga (Guide to Dandasana)

Staff Pose is the base position for nearly every seated yoga posture. This pose may appear straightforward or easy, but it can actually be much more complex than it seems. Staff Pose provides an opportunity to learn how to engage every small muscle in your body as you investigate how you sit and hold your body in every position.

“I use Staff Pose in my yoga therapy sessions to guide my clients into an experience of alignment and comfort in their own bodies,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “Even in this seemingly easy pose, we can discover how small shifts in the body can have a profound impact.”

Staff Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Dandasana
Pose Type: Seated Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Spine, chest, shoulders, neck, back, and abdomen
Benefits: Strengthens the back, improves posture, stretches the upper body, opens the chest, lengthens the spine, firms the legs, engages the core, and grounds the pelvis
Preparatory Poses: Mountain Pose, Forward Bend Pose, Tree Pose, Downward Facing Dog Pose, and Plank Pose

How to Do Staff Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by coming into a seated position with your legs outstretched in front of you with your big toes, thighs, and calves touching. Keep a small space between your heels as you flex your feet, pressing through your heels and activating your toes.  
  2. Bring your hands behind you and pull out the flesh from your buttocks to rest more firmly down onto the ground.
  3. Rest your hands by your sides, either flat on the mat or coming up onto the tops of your fingers.
  4. Engage your core and lift through your chest as you drop your shoulders down to lengthen the spine.
  5. Imagine that your spine is like the trunk of a tree and is firmly rooting down into the ground beneath you. With a deep exhalation, extend and lengthen through your spine, growing taller as you reach the crown of your head upwards.
  6. Gaze ahead of you towards your toes to keep your neck straight as well.
  7. Hold the pose for a few breaths, keeping a strong engagement from the base of your feet to the top of your head.
  8. To exit the pose, gently release your arms and shake out your legs, returning to a relaxed seated position.

Beginner’s Tip

Another way to investigate this pose is by placing your back against a wall to support you in this posture. This can also provide an opportunity to explore your alignment and discover how to engage different regions of your back.

If you feel imbalanced in this position, you can try sitting up on the edge of a blanket or bolster to raise your seat up. This can also prevent slouching in your lower back.

To increase engagement in your feet, you can also try placing a block against the backs of your feet or pressing your feet against a wall to explore the process of full-body engagement in this pose. Try to rotate your inner thighs inwards and downwards to engage your thighs in this position and to ground through your pelvis.

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