Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana — what a mouthful! In English, this pose roughly translates to Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose, which still doesn’t quite explain what it is either. Let’s just call it Forearm Backbend.
This is an advanced, super deep backbend and chest opener. It might not look it, but it’s intense. It should not be practiced by beginner yogis, injured yogis, and certainly not if you haven’t warmed up yet.
In addition, you need to have a strong Wheel Pose in order to do this. If you cannot yet straighten your arms in Wheel, then you aren’t ready to try Forearm Backbend.
The benefits of this pose are abundant — heart and shoulder opener, psoas stretch, leg strengthener. This pose will heat up the body and energize you as well.
How to Warm Up
Before even attempting Forearm Backbend, make sure to open the back, chest, hip flexors, and shoulders first. My suggestion would be to practice five Sun Salutation As to warm up, followed by three to five Sun Salutation Bs to warm up the legs for this pose.
Throw in some Warrior I and Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) into a short standing sequence. Clasp the hands behind the back and take Prasaritta Padottonasana C (Wide-Legged Forward Fold) to open up the shoulders, too. Gomukhasana and Urdhva Danurasana (Wheel Pose) would be great prep poses to include into your flow as well.
How to Do Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose
So once you’re all warmed up, you can try Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana. Essentially, it starts from Wheel Pose, and then you work your way on to your forearms and straighten the legs.
- Begin on the back. Bend the knees and place the feet on the ground hip distance apart, about one hand’s length away from the buttocks.
- Bend the elbows and place the hands on the mat just behind the shoulders.
- Extend the tailbone toward the space between the heels and scoop the low belly in and up slightly (engage the Bandhas to protect the spine).
- Inhale and press into the hands and feet coming into full Wheel.
- Hold Wheel for 2-5 breaths to get comfortable here.
- When ready, check in with the lower back and if it feels okay begin to drop the forearms slowly to the ground.
- Interlace the fingers behind the head.
- Press the elbows, forearms, and wrists into the ground to stabilize the pose. Think about hollowing the armpits and drawing the biceps toward each other in an inward rotation. Tuck the chin in slightly, engaging Jalandhara Bandha to protect the neck.
- Slowly begin to extend the legs away from you.
- Push into the feet, engaging the quads until the legs straighten.
Voila! Forearm Backbend.
Who Shouldn’t Do This Pose?
Avoid forearm backbend if you are pregnant, have neck or shoulder injuries, low back injuries, slipped disc, are new to yoga, or have high blood pressure.
I can’t stress enough that this is an advanced backbend that should be practiced with great care. This pose will not be okay for everyone.
Remember, advanced asana is not about achieving the pose in it’s fullest expression. Advanced yoga is about the journey and self-discovery made while getting there.