If you can practice both the Headstand and Upward Bow Pose -- or Urdhva Dhanurasana -- then you are ready to learn Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose. The Sanskrit name for this posture is Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.
(Pronounced as "dwee-PAHD-uh vee-pah-REET-ah done-DAHS-anna")
In Sanskrit, dwi means "two," pada means "feet," viparita means "inverted," and dandasana means "stick-like or staff posture." This posture symbolizes a yogi's prostration to the divine.
Get into the starting position for Upward Bow Pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana. You must be confident in Urdhva Dhanurasana before practicing the full version of Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana. If you are not comfortable with Upward Bow Pose yet, then skip down to the "Beginner's Tip" section below and practice the preparation version of this posture with a chair only.
Breathe normally as you lie flat on your yoga mat with your knees bent and soles of the feet touching the floor. The ankles should stay below your knees, and the palms of your hands should press into the floor right underneath your shoulders. Remember to turn your hands so that your fingertips point toward your shoulders.
On an exhalation, push down hard into the floor with your heels and hands as you lift up your pelvis high enough to raise your head and place the crown of your head against the mat. Your elbows and knees remain bent. Take a couple of breaths here. Keep your elbows at shoulder-width apart with your wrists directly below the elbows. Lift your chest as high as you can by tucking your shoulder blades in to avoid compressing your neck.
Push your pelvis up even higher to the ceiling by raising up on the balls of your feet. Slide one hand and then the other behind your head so that you can interlock your fingers behind your head exactly the same way you do in a Headstand. Keep pushing your pelvis up to create the space needed to move here.
If you cannot interlock your fingers behind your head, then simply practice holding this position without continuing through the rest of these steps. You can also work on the Beginner's Tip as preparation to go further in the future.
Once you've braced your fingers tightly against the back of your head, then push down very hard into the mat with your elbows and forearms. Take your weight onto your forearms completely so that you can open your chest more and lift the crown of your head one inch off the ground. Then lower the crown back down to the floor so that your head is perpendicular to the ground. Keep most of your weight on your forearms.
Keep your elbows no more than shoulder-width apart from each other. If this position is challenging enough for you, then stay here and keep your ankles below your knees while focusing on the lift of the pelvis. Tuck your tailbone up and into your pelvis as much as possible.
If you can go further, then focus on continuing to push your pelvis up as you slowly walk both feet forward and away from your head. Move very gradually, alternating between stepping one foot and then the other until your legs are straight with your toes pointed and the soles of your feet against the floor. Do not disturb the lift of the pelvis during this movement.
Dig your heels firmly into the floor to maintain the lift of your tailbone and lower belly. Push down firmly with your forearms to lift the shoulders away from the floor and raise your chest, torso, hips and thighs up, arching them all up together.
Hold this posture for one minute and gradually increase the duration to two minutes as you continue practicing it in the future. Your breathing will be faster here due to the contraction of the diaphragm, but that is normal. Do not hold your breath as you stay in the pose.
To come out of this posture, slowly move your feet back toward the head and bend your knees. Then release your interlocked fingers. Push down with your hands to raise the crown of the head off of the floor without straining the neck. Gradually lower down your torso and make sure that your tailbone is the last part of your body to touch the floor. Relax by lying flat. Rest until your breathing slows down and returns to normal.
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana
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