Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana: “upward facing two-foot staff pose”
Is it just me, or did Monday come extremely quickly this time around?
The gorgeous weather gave me an opportunity to have a jam packed weekend of sailing, yoga and socializing, leaving me a little worn out, dehydrated, and yet extremely content and desiring more weekends like this past one.
It’s Monday’s like these, however, where my mind skips a few mindful moments and heads straight for the following weekend, not appreciating, or opening my heart to the enjoyment i can get out of a normal Monday. I begin losing a bit of my prana, or life force and motivation, for the week’s tasks.
So this week, I decided to focus on a pose that will give you all something to look forward to practicing, even on a Monday.
It is an advanced modification of a pose I featured last week, and yet it feels surprisingly natural and not as difficult as you would imagine.
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, or “upward facing two-foot staff pose”, is a remarkable and yet overlooked pose that many do not get to experience because it is not featured in class often.
The pose may also be called “inverted staff pose” or “headstand backbend”.
There is a fantastic step by step instruction of the pose starting from upward facing bow (or Wheel) pose, chakrasana or urdhva dhanurasana (I featured last week here).
From Chakrasana to Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana…
- Once up in chakrasana, take a large inhale, press into your palms and lift your head and shoulders off the ground, placing the crown (top) of your head on the mat. Then lower your elbows to the ground on either side of your head in front of your face, and interlace your hands behind the back of your head.
- When you feel stable throughout your body, carefully walk your feet away from you while straightening through your legs. If you can, press the soles of your feet firmly into the ground so you can lift your chest and hips higher.
- Inhale five deep breathes slowly, or even more if you can hold it. When you feel the need to come down from the pose, then walk your feet back in, place your palms flat on the floor, and lower your hips back to the ground. Bring you knees into your chest in to release your lower back. You can rock back and forth massaging your lower back on the ground.
- Some great poses to do after this pose are child’s pose, Balasana, downward facing dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, and some slow spinal seated twists, like Half “Lord of the Fishes” Pose, Ardha Matsyendrasana.
You can also enter this pose through “bound headstand”, but because it is a somewhat challenging pose, I like to enter through chakrasana.
This pose is a “heart opener” and is also wonderful for women’s reproductive systems. It rinses out the spine and strengthens the legs, glutes, back and arms.It relieves coccyx pain and it is a mood enhancer, lifting sad and anxious emotions.
If you couple this pose with sirsasana (which I featured a few weeks ago here) the pose cleanses the mind of negative thinking and has an extreme soothing effect on the brain and emotions.
The pose really brings your prana back in full force, especially on a Monday, when the week is looking extremely long. Samadhi, or bliss, comes easily after the completion of this pose as you come down, releasing all the tension and fear you are holding, especially in your hip flexors, lower back and shoulders.
I like to do this pose as one of the last in my practice. Coming down from it I do a few more poses to stretch my back out, some seated twists, etc. Then I lie back into savasana and let the pose work on my brain chemistry a bit, letting the endorphins and confidence I get from this pose fully wash over me.
Note: do not try this pose if you have wrist, neck, or back injuries. And remember, do not try this pose for the first time without the guidance of a seasoned yoga teacher. Also, for more info, check of B.K. S. Iyengar’s book “Light on Yoga” available at most book stores and amazon.com.
Now for a treat…
I also like to start off my Mondays, and most summer mornings with a good cleansing smoothie with fruits that are in season. After doing back-bends and twists, eating something easy to digest and that will cleanse your further is a good idea.
The best part about making smoothies is that it allows me to throw in some herbal supplements and extra minerals/vitamins that I normally hate taking on their own, such as Ginkgo and iron. If you buy these supplements in the powder capsule form, just crack open a few into the smoothie and blend!
For a Monday morning, to cleanse further, I use a lot of watermelon because it has a very good detoxification effect.
Also, if you feel nauseous often after yoga in the heat, or if you are not used to eating liquid meals, cut up some fresh ginger root and throw it in. It tastes delicious and fresh, while it calms the stomach…a miracle worker!
Here is one of my current smoothie recipes using some summer fruits and some local ingredients…
Alex’s Protein and Fruit Detox Smoothie
(makes about 3 servings)
1/4 cup organic low fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of ice
1 cup of frozen Cascadian Farm frozen mixed berries
1/2 banana (i save the other half for a snack mid-morning)
1 cup fresh organic local blueberries
a splash of low sugar organic soy milk
1 cup fresh Watermelon
1 tsp. freshly shaved ginger
2 tbsp. protein powder…I like Aria women’s whey and soy protein
Also add in Whatever supplements you take for the day… I take a few capsules of Ginkgo, fish oil, and maybe some bone strengthening supplement.
Blend, garnish with some fresh fruit…. and enjoy!
If you have any smoothie recipes you would like to share, e-mail or comment with the recipe and I’ll share it on my blog!