Dancer's Pose  -Natarajasana

Step by step

  • Stand in Tadasana. Ground and center through your feet and take a point on eye level to focus on.
  • Exhale bend your left knee, left foot to the buttock, and hold the outside of your left foot with the left hand. The top of the right thighbone draws back and engage your right thigh and knee to make the standing leg strong.
  • Keep the torso upright, the chest open and draw the pubic bone to the navel to keep length in the lower back. Now on an inhale pushing the left foot back into the hand, raising the leg so the thighbone ends up parallel to the floor and the lower leg in a right angle with the thigh bone and vertical with the floor. You can lift your right arm up in front of you, parallel to the floor or a little higher next to the ear.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths.
  • On an out-breath release the leg back down to the floor.

Tips for beginners

  • If your balance is not great you can try doing this pose near a wall, using it to help you with your balance if necessary.
  • Make sure you keep the foot of the bent leg flexed, this can help to avoid cramps.

Benefits

  • Strengthens the ankles, legs, core and arms.
  • Stretches the chest, shoulders, groins and abdomen.
  • Improves balance and concentration.

Watch out for

  • Don't lock the knee of the standing leg. You can keep a micro-bend in the knee to avoid this.
  • Cramps in back of the thigh, keep your ankle and foot flexed, keeping the bent leg active.

Variations

  • When holding the outside of the foot with with the left hand, you can also reach back with the right hand and hold the inside of the foot, and than lift the leg. This works stronger on the chest. Your balance needs to be good for this.
  • You can try to hold the foot from the inside - this changes the stretch in the shoulder slightly.
  • To help you get into the full expression of this pose, you can use a belt. Loop the belt around your left foot. Make sure the strap comes over your shoulder from the back. Then walk your hands down the belt, elbows pointing to the ceiling, hands behind the back, slowly lifting the foot.