Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) is one of my all-time favourites.
It’s a beautiful marriage of strength, flexibility, balance, and meditation. Kinda like the asana jackpot in my mind. It tones and strengthens the leg muscles, stretches and opens the shoulders and chest, improves balance, and focuses the mind.
There is a modification of this pose for every level of practice—from building strength and balance while working on the foundation phase, to a delicious backbend by clasping toes with both hands in the full extension. Most of all, I love the way it makes me feel—powerful, graceful, and strong.
Since Dancer can be a peak pose, it is crucial to warm up properly.
After a few Sun Salutations to build heat, move into a couple of hip openers. Warm up through the spine and make sure to take a few back bends to prepare. I also encourage prepping with a standing posture like Tree (Vrksasana) to internally focus the mind.
When you’re ready and open, give it a go with the following five tips in mind.
From Tadasana, focus internally and bring your awareness to the four corners of your feet. Find your drishti—one non-moving point you can fix your gaze on—and commit to an open-eye meditation. Shift your weight to your right foot and grow its bones in all directions.
Feel your left foot become light and almost lift off the mat. Bend the left knee and clasp your left hand around the left ankle.
2. Thumb faces out.
As you hold on to your ankle, make sure your left thumb faces out, away from your body, to rotate the shoulder and open the chest. Engage the right arm and extend it towards the horizon.
3. Kick, kick, and kick some more.
Extend from your tailbone through the crown of the head and hinge at the hips as you kick the left foot into your left hand. The stability in this posture comes from the strength in the kick—the harder you kick, the more stable you’ll be.
4. Square the hips.
Try to square the hips and keep your left knee in line with your body rather than opening out to the left side.
5. Protect the standing knee.
It’s easy to hyperextend the standing knee in this posture. Hyperextension occurs when the knee bends past its usual range of motion when straight. To prevent this and protect that standing leg, engage the quad and then microbend the knee on the standing leg.
Dancer Pose is a challenging posture; so if you fall out, get back in! Have fun with it and as your strength, flexibility, and balance changes you can start to try different modifications for this gorgeous, graceful posture.
What do you like or dislike about Dancer Pose? How does this posture make you feel? I’d love to hear from you!