Alison West, director of the Yoga Union Backcare & Scoliosis Center, teaches moving from Dandasana to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Danda = Staff or rod á Asana = Pose
BENEFITS Strengthens your back, hip flexors, and quadriceps; allows for lift and expansion in the top of your chest.
1 Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Flex your feet slightly, and keep a long, neutral spine. Visualize your torso as a firm staff.
2 Bend your elbows, dome your hands, and press the tops of your fingers into the floor next to your hips. (If you don’t have wrist issues and your arms are long enough, press your palms flat on the floor and straighten your arms.)
3 Firm your thighs as if hugging your femurs (thigh bones). Take your inner thighs down, lightly drawing your legs into your hip sockets to bring your pelvis vertical and support your lower abdomen. Reach out through your lower legs, and spread the balls of your feet.
4 Lengthen your spine without hardening your abdomen or impeding your breath. It helps to imagine that you’re a leafy plant whose leaves are growing out from your tailbone to the sides of your pelvis, from your lower spine out to the sides of your rib cage, from your heart out to your collarbones, and from the base of your neck out to the base of your skull.
5 Anchor your inner shoulder blades against your back, and draw the bottoms down without pinching them together. Gently roll the tops of your arms out to broaden your chest.
6 Breathe fully and freely for 5 breaths.
DON’T overarch your back or push your chest out, which will overwork your hip flexors and put pressure on your sacroiliac joint (which joins bone at the base of your spine with your pelvis ).
DON’T round your back or stick out your chin, which will restrict your breathing and can strain your lower back.