How to Do the Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana — what a mouthful! In English, this pose roughly translates to a Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose, which still doesn’t quite explain what it is either. Let’s call it Forearm Backbend.

This is a super deep, advanced backbend. Although it might not appear to be intense, it is. Beginner yogis and injured yogis should avoid this pose. Also, it’s not recommended for those who have not warmed up.

You will also need a good Wheel Pose to perform this. You are not ready for the Forearm Backbend if you can’t straighten your arms yet in the Wheel.

This pose has many benefits — it opens the heart and shoulders, stretches psoas, and strengthens the legs. This pose will energize and heat your body.

How to Warm-up

Open your shoulders, chest, hips flexors, and back before attempting Forearm Backbend. I would suggest that you warm up with five Sun Salutation As, then three to five Sun Salutation Bs in order to prepare your legs for this pose.

Add some Warrior I (Low Lunge) and Anjaneyasana into a standing sequence. To open the shoulders as well, clasp the hands behind your back and do Prasaritta Padottonasana (Wide-Legged Fold). You can also include Urdhvadanurasana, or Wheel Pose (Gomukhasana), as prep poses in your flow.

How to Do the Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose

Once you are warmed up, you can do Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana. It starts with a Wheel Pose, and you then move on to the forearms, straightening your legs.

Start on your back. Place your feet hip-distance apart and about a hand’s distance away from your buttocks.

Place your hands just behind your shoulders and bend the elbows.

The Bandhas protect the spine.

Press your hands and feet into the full Wheel and inhale.

Hold the Wheel for 2-5 breaths.

Check your lower back. If it feels good, begin to drop your forearms to the floor slowly.

Fingers behind the head: Interlace fingers.

To stabilize the pose, press the elbows and forearms into the earth. Imagine hollowing out the armpits and pulling the biceps inwards in an inwards rotation. Engage the Jalandhara bandha to protect your neck by tucking the chin slightly in.

Slowly extend your legs away from yourself.

As the legs straighten, push into the feet and engage the quads.

Voila! Forearm Backbend.

Who should not do this pose?

If you have a slipped disc or a slipped neck or shoulder injury, are new to yoga, or are pregnant, avoid forearm backbend.

This is a very advanced backbend and should only be done with extreme care. This pose is not for everyone.

Remember that advanced asana does not mean achieving the pose at its fullest expression. The journey to advanced yoga and the self-discovery that occurs along the way is what makes it so special.

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