Foundational pose # 3: Staff Pose
As always, no pose should ever hurt – if it does, stop! If it doesn’t feel right for any reason – stop! For this pose, extra caution should be taken if you have lower back injuries or torn leg muscles.
Enough already… How?
From a seated position with your legs in front of you, lengthen your legs. You want the top of your legs back and under your hips with your glutes as far back as you can get them while maintaining a straight back. Your legs should make a 90 degree angle with your back. Flex your feet. Imagine yourself pressing through your heels toward the wall in front of you (or, if you’re outside, I’m jealous! Enjoy the scenery and press your heels toward whatever is in front of you). Imagine a string pulling straight up through your upper body all the way through the crown of your head stretching from the floor to the ceiling.
Your spine should be in a neutral position with your core muscles straightening and lengthening your upper body up toward the ceiling. Feet are flexed. Contract your quads. This allows you to draw your knee caps up slightly. Keep a slight bend in your knees to keep from hyperextending your joints (never lock out any joint while doing yoga).
Depending on your personal level of flexibility and your comfort with the pose, it is alright if you bend your knees slightly to help keep your spine neutral. Try to avoid rolling back on your sacrum. Make sure to press the back of your legs into the ground. This gives a great hamstring stretch. At this point, you should feel grounded.
Place your hands alongside the body. Actively reach your down toward your mat . If your arms are short enough that you can’t reach the ground, stretch them straight down toward the ground. If you can reach the ground, bring your palms forward slightly, still reaching down toward the ground.
Your chest should be opened and your shoulders relaxed. Draw your chin slightly down toward your chest. Personally, I like to use a folded blanket to prevent the stiffening of my hips and the rounding of my lower back. In other words, I use the blanket to help maintain a neutral spine. A block can work for this, too. Any elevated surface can help maintain length within the spine.
If you try this pose against a wall, your sacrum and shoulder blades should touch the wall, but the wall should not touch your lower back or the back of your head. If your head is touching the wall, you are slouching. We all do it, but stop!
As westerns we spend a lot of time sitting, and we generally sit with terrible posture. This pose teaches us how to sit properly. It improves your posture and alignment by strengthening core muscles, back muscles and hip flexors. This pose also gives a nice stretch to the hamstrings, calves, chest and shoulders. If you focus on each part of your body as you actively engage each muscle group required for the pose, it can encourage a strong sense of awareness of your own body.
This is THE foundational pose to get into other seated poses.
We are actively grounding our bodies, lengthening through our entire spine and lengthening through our legs. Every muscle group is engaged throughout our core and legs. We are in Staff Pose.
Who says yoga is easy? Try holding this one for a minute or two and let me know if you still think it’s easy…
I will try to link to more information or more thoroughly explain concepts based on the questions I get (so your emails help me). My husband always says, “I don’t know what a sacrum is!” So, today, we all get to learn what it is.
Here are a couple of other websites I found helpful.