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Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose)

This advanced backbend strengthens and invigorates the whole body.

By Barbara Benagh

Again, close your eyes for a moment to engage your inner focus. With a steady exhalation, extend your back thighs and calves to root the feet and raise your hips until you are once again on your shoulders. Pause. With your next exhalation, use your legs to pull your hips, shoulders, and head off the floor while rotating your upper shoulder blades toward your tailbone and extending your arms straight. If all goes well, you'll be in Urdhva Dhanurasana. Congratulations!

Refine the asana over several repetitions. Most asanas benefit from less effort, and this one is no exception. For greater efficiency, use the extension of your calves and rotation of your shoulder blades to bring your arms as perpendicular to the floor as possible. Maintain steady breathing while you coax your back into a fluid bend, like the opening you experienced over the bolsters. You'll be amazed at how much longer and more comfortably you can stay in the pose when you support it as much by inner expansion as by external action.

To come out of the pose, bend your arms, tuck your chin and tailbone in as you return your shoulders to the floor, and roll the spine out, vertebra by vertebra, to lie down.

Unfortunately, sometimes even our most sincere efforts go unrewarded. If you simply cannot lift off the floor into Urdhva Dhanurasana, continue preparing yourself with more bolster work and with asanas such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Full Arm Balance, or Handstand), and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose).

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana

Before going further toward Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, you should be able to practice Urdhva Dhanurasana with straight arms and Sirsasana I (Headstand) without strain. If you meet these prerequisites, you're ready. Here we go!

Prepare as for Urdhva Dhanurasana: Lie on your back, feet on the floor, heels under the knees, and step your feet a little wider than your hips. Bend your arms and place your palms on the floor by your ears, fingertips facing the shoulders, shoulder-width apart. Pause for a moment to focus and tune in to your breathing. As you exhale, extend your calves and back thighs to pull your hips, shoulders, and head from the floor as you straighten your arms. As before, rotate your upper shoulder blades toward your tailbone to lift your shoulders and lighten the load on your arms.

Since you probably won't be able to hold this asana for very long, corrective actions need to be done quickly and decisively. Bend your arms and place the crown of your head on the floor between your hands and feet, keeping your elbows shoulder-width apart and directly over your wrists. To ensure that your neck does not become compressed, exhale, press your hands into the floor, and again rotate your top shoulder blades toward your tailbone. Keep your chest open and lifted. On your next exhalation, slide one hand past your ear to cup the back of your head, bringing your weight onto your forearm. Repeat the same action with the other arm, interlacing your fingers behind your head. (You may be more successful in these arm movements if you lift onto your tiptoes.)

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Reader Comments


Thank you! really appreciate the springiness and clarity of your writing - makes a lot of good sense. Inspired me to try this asana.



hard!!! but my fav of all.

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