Staff Pose (Dandasana) to Tone Your Shoulders

This seems like a very simple pose, but many find it incredibly hard to do in a way that is safe and strong. The usual reason is tight hamstrings. When our hamstrings are tight we can’t sit up straight with the legs out in front. This is because they pull on the pelvis and force us to round our backs.  Therefore, to successfully complete the pose, those of us with this problem will have to sit up on a block or firm cushion and that will take the pull out of the legs and let us sit up straight.

We are going to use this pose to strengthen our shoulders and our core support muscles, let’s try it:

  • Sit on a firm surface with your back straight and your legs out in front.
  • Bring your hands to the floor beside you directly under your shoulders, while keeping your back straight. Now here’s another anatomical consideration – If your arms are too short to reach the floor, you will need to put blocks or hard covered books under each hand. However if your arms are too long and they have to bend, you should sit up on blocks or a pile of books so that they reach the floor comfortably.
  • Rotate your inner arms outwards slightly while keeping the hands pointing straight ahead. This will bring the head of the arm nicely into the shoulder socket.
  • Make sure your shoulders are not hunched up by your ears.
  • Now simply press into your hands as if you are lifting your body up away from the floor. Your body doesn’t need to lift although if it does all the better.
  • Hold for 5 or more breaths and do this pose regularly to increase your shoulder strength and tone your core support muscles.


By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training