Ashtanga Yoga is a beautiful and ancient form of yoga that focuses on the synchronization of breath and movement.  In this blog post, we’ll look at Dandasana and Paschimottanasana.  These are the first two seated postures from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series (yoga chikitsa).

These two postures require focus and engagement of various muscle groups. Dandasana and Paschimottanasna are foundational seated postures that prepare us for many other asanas in the Ashtanga Yoga series.

Paschimottanasana - forward bend stretch

Benefits of Dandasana & Paschimottanasana:

Improved Posture

Improved Digestion

Hamstring Flexibility

Core Strength

Massaging Internal Organs

Calmness, Grounding and Focus

Preparation for Other Asanas

Energy Flow

Mind-Body Connection

Relaxation and Stress Relief

Consistency is key to deepening your practice.   The benefits of these postures become more apparent as you integrate them into your routine.

Dandasana - staff pose

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Dandasana and Paschimottanasana


While Dandasana Paschimottanasana offer numerous benefits, there are certain situations in which it might not be suitable or should be modified. It’s important to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga teacher if you have any concerns or specific conditions.

Back Injuries or Conditions:

Always consult with a medical professional before attempting this pose, and consider modifying or skipping it if it causes discomfort.

Hamstring Injuries:

Be cautious when extending your legs straight. You can safely modify this pose by bending your knees slightly.

Knee Issues:

Modify these poses by slightly bending your knees to prevent strain on the knees.


Consult a healthcare professional before attempting Dandasana if you have sciatica.


Consider practicing a modified version with support under your hips or avoid the pose if it causes discomfort.

Hip or Groin Injuries:

Work with a professional yoga teacher to help you safely modify this pose to suit your comfort level.

High Blood Pressure:

Consider practicing Dandasana with your back against a wall.  And avoid holding Paschimottanasana for an extended period and come out of it immediately if you feel any discomfort.

Recent Abdominal Surgery:

Avoid straining or compressing the area until you’ve fully healed. And it’s best to avoid Paschimottanasana until you have fully healed and been cleared for exercise.

Step by Step instructions for practicing Dandasana and Paschimottanasana

We will be entering this posture from downward facing dog, having just taken our first vinyasa from standing to seated position. 

(Vinyasa #7)

From downward facing dog, look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor.  Extend your legs in front of you. Flex your feet.  Engage your quadriceps and press your heels forward. Bring your palms on the floor next to your hips. Bring your chin to your chest and look toward your nose (nasagrai drishti). As you breathe in, lengthen your spine, lifting your chest upwards.

Take five deep breaths here.

(Vinyasa #8)

Inhale and extend your spine.  Grab your grab your big toes with your thumb, index finger and middle fingers. Head up.

(Vinyasa #9)

Exhale, fold forward. Engage your quadriceps, flex your feet, and hinge from your hips to fold forward.  Look to your toes (Padhayoragrai drishti)

Take five deep breaths.

(Vinyasa #10)

Inhale – lift your torso and head up.

(Vinyasa #9)

Exhale – grab the butter edges of your feet with your hands (or bind your hands) and fold forward.

Take five deep breaths

(Vinyasa #10)

Inhale – lift your head and torso up. Exhale there.

(Vinyasa #11)

Inhale, hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

(Vinyasa #12)

Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

(Vinyasa #13)

Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

(Vinyasa #14) 

Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Paschimottanasana in Ashtanga Yoga is a powerful posture that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Remember that yoga is a journey, and each practice is unique. With consistent effort, you’ll gradually enhance your flexibility and experience the transformative effects of this pose. By following this step-by-step guide and paying attention to alignment, breath, and modifications, you’ll be well on your way to mastering Paschimottanasana and reaping its rewards in your Ashtanga Yoga journey.

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Dandasana and Paschimottanasana


If you have tightness in certain areas or are working through an injury or illness, modifying Dandasana (Staff Pose) can make the pose more accessible and comfortable. Here are some modifications you can try:

Bend Your Knees:

To reduce the intensity of the hamstring stretch and can make the pose more comfortable by bending your knees. Slowly work on straightening your legs over time when your body is ready to go further. In this modification, work to gently press your heel forward and your tailbone backwards through space.  This will help create extension through your spine.  Don’t straighten your leg by pressing your knee downward.  Instead, ground through your sitzbones and press your heel forwards.

Wall Support:

In this modification, practice Dandasana & Paschimottanasana against a wall. Sit with your legs extended in front of you and your back against the wall. The wall will help you maintain spinal alignment.

Chair Modification:

In this modification, you can practice a seated version of Dandasana and Paschimottanasana on a chair. Sit at the edge of the chair.  Stretch your legs out in front of you. Place your hands on the seat or armrests.

As with any yoga posture, it’s crucial to listen to your body and prioritize your safety. If you have any medical conditions, injuries, or concerns, consult a healthcare professional or a certified yoga instructor before attempting Paschimottanasana. Remember that yoga is about cultivating self-awareness and honoring your body’s limitations. With proper modifications and guidance, you can still benefit from yoga practice while respecting your individual needs and circumstances.

Click here to watch a Yoga tutorial breaking down Dandasana and Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana - forward bend stretch

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I am a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and I am passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

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Navasana, boat posture

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