Lord of the Dance pose, or Natarajasana, is a beautiful way to practice cultivating grace and poise among chaos.
As a full-body backbend that also requires balance, however, finding your own unique expression of this elegant posture can seem intimidating at first.
Not to worry! Below, we discuss proper form and alignment so you can safely soar in Dancer.
Benefits of Dancer Pose
Dancer offers incredible physical, emotional and mental benefits. It stretches the shoulders, chest, thighs, groin and abdomen while strengthening the legs and ankles. Because it strengthens the back, it naturally improves posture and helps to counteract the damage of excessive sitting (its hip-opening magic helps with this as well).
In Dancer, you also develop concentration, confidence and empowerment while relieving stress. You can also expect a nice energy boost, since this posture activates the entire body.
It’s important to note that Dancer is often considered a peak pose — which means warming up first is crucial. There’s plenty of ways to do so, with Sun Salutations being one popular option.
Here’s how to do it:
- Begin in Mountain pose at the top of your mat. Root through the right foot.
- Kick your left heel back to your glute. Grasp the inside of your foot with the soft inner part of your elbow open to the sky (think thumbs up, not thumbs down). This is absolutely essential for keeping the shoulders and chest open.
- Lift your right arm straight up to the sky.
- Begin to lift your left foot up, away from the floor and back. Press your foot against your hand and hand against your foot to create some stabilizing resistance.
- Reach your right arm in front of you as you keep your chest lifted and open.
- Make sure that your hips are facing forward.
- Hold for five breaths, keeping your gaze steady past your fingertips to help you balance. Squeeze your knees back together to release.
- Take this posture on the opposite side.
- To help with balance, let your leg lead the way rather than your torso (aka, lift your foot faster than the body comes forward).
- Keep a microbend in the knee of your standing leg to avoid locking the knee.
- Hug your standing outer hip in and draw your knee toward the midline to keep the pelvis neutral. This also prevents your knee from splaying out, which is a common issue in Dancer.
- Keep the chest nice and open as you create more space between the heel and the glute.
- As you press your raised foot back, don’t let your torso drop forward; keep your chest lifted.
- When you grab your foot from the inside you are opening up your chest and rotating your shoulder properly, which is an integral part of the stretch. Think thumbs up, not thumbs down!
- To maintain the integrity of this posture, the hips must face forward. It may be helpful to imagine that your hip bones are the headlights on a car.
- Be careful not to crank the neck up; keep a neutral and natural neck.
Flow With Us at Haven
At Haven on the Lake, cultivating balance amid chaos is what we do best! We offer a variety of yoga styles, with plenty of class times to fit your needs. Check out our class schedule here.