3.11.2011

Asana of the Week: Viparita Dandasana

"The Hindu devotee prostrates before the Lord lying flat upon the floor, face downwards with the hands outstretched.  The Yogi, on the other hand, prostrates himself in this graceful, inverted arch." -- BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga
I've had backbends on the brain these past couple of weeks, so here's another great backbend for you:  Viparita Dandasana, or Inverted Staff Posture.  This exhilarating pose keeps the spine supple, makes the back body strong, and expands the chest fully.  The heart becomes the point of focus as it is lifted and presented forth.  While it can be tricky to come in to this pose, once there, Viparita Dandasana induces feelings of glorious liberation.

Warm up to this pose with some gentle heart and shoulder openers; Gomukhasana (Cow-face Pose) and Ustrasana (Camel Pose) are a couple of my favorite preparatory postures for deep backbending.  When you're ready, enter Viparita Dandasana from Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) by bringing the crown of the head to the floor.  Release the forearms down one at a time and interlace the fingers behind the head.  Advanced practitioners (a.k.a. those of us with too much time on our hands) may drop the legs into Viparita Dandasana from Sirsasana and, to exit the pose, kick the legs back up to Sirsasana from the backbend.

While in Viparita Dandasana, draw the shoulders back to slide the heart forward.  Keep the elbows firmly pressed into the mat to prevent them from splaying apart or sliding up.  At first, this pose may be practiced with the legs bent, but as proficiency is reached, the legs will gradually straighten.  Press firmly into the heels and keep the inner and outer edges of the feet in contact with the mat.  The feet may want to roll out because of the contraction of the glutes, which externally rotate the femurs.  Counteract this tendency by grounding through the mounds of the big toes and consciously bringing an internal rotation to the legs.  Ideally, the feet will be together, but tightness in the low back may require that the feet be hip-width apart which, for most of us, is only about 5-6 inches.  (Your hips are not likely as wide as you perceive, especially since we're speaking strictly of bone structure here... just something to keep in mind.)

Engage Uddiyana bandha to support and elongate the low back.  Breathe into your expanded, expansive chest and melt your heart forward by softening the space between the shoulderblades.  Enjoy the strength and supplication of this pose.

3 comments:

  1. how would i release the pose? i am stumped!

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    Replies
    1. @ Bruce. I have started to this pose very recently. In my experience, I feel you can try releasing in the similar form as you do in the bridge pose by bringing your legs close to you and then releasing. Atleast, I am trying in this way. Even I do not know the side effects. Rest of the case lies on Megan.

      Regards
      CA. Abhishek Sanyal

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  2. Today I have explored a new way to release from this version and I have not felt any strain. While releasing I brought my hands back to the Urdhva Dhanurasan position and I brought back the legs close to me and raised myself in the Urdhva Dhanurasan pose and then released myself from that position. I felt comfortable doing that. Megan, can I continue with this type of release?

    Regards
    CA. Abhishek Sanyal

    ReplyDelete