Yoga Poses

Challenge Pose: One-Legged Inverted Staff Pose

Root your forearms, lift your shoulders, curl your chest open, and extend through your spine and legs as you move step by step into Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana.

PREVIOUS STEP IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Poses to Prep for One-Legged Inverted Staff Pose
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Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana
eka = one · pada = foot · viparita = inverted · danda = staff · asana = pose

Benefits

Opens your shoulders, chest, and upper back; strengthens your legs and upper body; stretches your front body, the thigh of your grounded leg, and the hamstrings of your lifted leg; increases energy

Step 1

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From Urdhva Dhanurasana, slowly re-bend your elbows, keeping them directly over your wrists, and place the crown of your head on the floor without bearing too much weight on your head. Pause and draw your shoulder blades back, then lower your forearms to the floor one at a time with your fingers pointed toward your heels and your elbows shoulder-distance apart. Interlace your fingers behind your head, tucking your outer pinkie finger in, as you did in Dolphin Pose.

See also Chest-Opening Yoga Poses

Step 2

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Firm your outer arms in and lift your shoulder heads away from the floor. Press down through your inner elbows, forearms, and outer wrists, and firm your shoulder blades into your back ribs as you raise your head off the floor. Then lift your heels, keeping your shins parallel, and release your inner thighs down toward the floor before lengthening your tailbone and lowering your heels back down. Extend out through your spine and press your sternum forward. Take a few rounds of breath.

See also Inclusivity Training: Align Your Heart Chakra with this Chest-Opening Sequence

Step 3

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When you’re ready, strongly press the four corners of your left foot down into the mat, shifting your weight to your left leg, and bring your right knee up and in toward your chest. Keep your chest lifted as you spread your right toes, and slowly start to straighten your right leg toward the ceiling.

See also 3 Foolproof Chest and Shoulder Openers

Step 4

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Keeping the two sides of your pelvis level, strongly root down through your inner left heel as you press your right heel and ball of the foot straight up toward the ceiling, curling deeper in your upper back and propelling your chest gently forward. Take a few rounds of breath, and then lower your lifted foot to the earth, and switch to the other side. To release, make sure both feet are back on the floor, and then unlace your fingers and place your palms flat in preparation for Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose). Press all the way back up into full Wheel Pose for a breath before tucking your chin and lowering back down to the floor for a rest.

See also Shoulder Safety: Learn How to Better Prep for Backbends

See also Amy Ippoliti’s New Way to Wheel: A 6-Step Warm-Up

Stay Safe

Viparita Dandasana (with one or both feet down) demands open shoulders and upper-back muscles. You must be able to keep both forearms rooted with your elbows shoulder-distance apart, and your shoulders lifted away from the floor, or you risk not only compressing your low back but your neck as well (read: not worth it!). Move slowly as you place one forearm down and then the other; your shoulders will quickly tell you if this pose is appropriate. 

See also Chest-Opening Yoga Poses

About Our Pro
Teacher and model Meagan McCrary is a yoga teacher in Los Angeles and author of Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga. To learn more, go to meaganmccrary.com