How to Do Hands and Knees Balance (Dandayamana Bharmanasana) in Yoga

Bird Dog
Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Balancing Table Pose, Bird Dog Pose

Targets: Balance, core

Level: Beginner

Hands and Knees Balance Pose is a great place to start to work on that all important yet elusive key to so many yoga poses—core strength. It's low to the ground and easy to release quickly if you feel like you're going to fall, which takes care of a lot of the uneasiness people feel around balance challenges. It's also easy to scale it up into a backbend or by throwing in some crunches when you are ready.

Benefits

This pose improves balance and core strength. You will stretch and strengthen your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, biceps, triceps, and core muscles. The balance and stability challenge engage your core muscles. This pose can help you improve your body awareness and posture. It also provides a good foundation for other yoga poses that require balance and stability.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Come on to all fours with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
  2. Extend your right foot to the back of your mat and flex your foot.
  3. Lift your right leg up to hip level, keeping your hips squared towards the floor and your foot flexed.
  4. Lift your left arm up to shoulder level, keeping the arm straight. Point your thumb toward the ceiling as if you were going to shake someone's hand or turn your palm to face the floor.
  5. Balance on the left knee and right hand, keeping the spine neutral and the neck long. Your gaze should be on the floor.
  6. Stay five to 10 breaths before lowering the lifted hand and knee. Spend a few breaths on all fours to get your solid foundation back, then do the pose on the other side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most from this pose.

Collapsing Spine

Take care that your spine does not collapse into a Cow Pose position while you are balancing. If your stomach drops it can place stress on your lower back. Engage your core and glutes to keep your spine in neutral position.

Tensed Shoulders

Don't let your shoulders hover next to your ears. Keep your shoulders down and chest broad.

Modifications and Variations

As with most yoga poses, you can do this pose in different ways to make it more accessible or progress your practice.

Need a Modification?

It's OK if you wobble a little at first. Just do your best to keep both limbs lifted off the floor. To make kneeling more comfortable, you can place folded blanket under your knees.

Up for a Challenge?

Do some crunches in which you round your spine (like Cat Pose position) to bring your right knee and left elbow to meet under your belly, then re-extend them. Repeat five times on each side, moving with the breath. Extend the hand and foot away from one another on your inhalations and bring your knee and elbow together on your exhalations.

Bend your right knee. The sole of your foot will be facing the ceiling. Reach around behind your back with your left arm and hold on to the inside of your right foot with your thumb pointing toward your toes. You can stay here or kick into your left hand with the right foot to lift the right leg and bring your spine into extension (a backbend).

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your knee, shoulder, back, or hip. While it is a good prenatal yoga pose, you should use care or avoid it in the third trimester. If you feel any pain, end the pose.

 Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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