Dancer Pose Yoga (Natarajasana)

There are many asanas (poses) that can be done during a yoga practice. A lot of them are meant to be fun and challenging at the same time, whilst helping a person to attain stillness. There are also numerous health benefits that come with each asana. One of the yoga asanas that can be extremely challenging is the dancer’s pose. 

What is Natarajasana?

Also known as Natarajasana, the original Sanskrit word, the dancer pose is a heart-opening and balancing yoga pose. It’s known to be a beautiful yoga pose that requires quite a lot of balance. The pose has one leg lifted behind the torso, whilst the other remains strong and standing. Both hands are reaching back and holding the lifted foot, whilst the back arches for a full dancer pose. The full version is sometimes also known as the Lord of the dance pose. 

Why do dancers pose?

For most of the balancing poses in yoga, they challenge a person to be calm whilst getting into tricky poses so that the practice of finding stillness in challenging times can be taken off of the mat too. Dancer pose is no exception to this. It helps people to find that calm and still place, focus their attention and open their hearts at the same time.

It’s a pose that improves the overall focus and balance that someone has. It increases flexibility in the spine, hips, shoulders, and mind. All the while it opens up the chest area and stretches out the spine. When it comes to strengthening certain areas, Natarajasana expands ankle and leg muscle strength. It’s a fully rounded pose and offers everything that is needed within a yoga practice. 

How to Get into Dancer Pose 

Getting into the pose isn’t the easiest, but there is a half-dancer pose variation that can be done by beginners or those who struggle with their balance.

  1. First come into tidasana, the mountain pose. The feet must be a hip-width distance apart or completely together, whichever is most comfortable. Arms are resting to the side of the body with palms facing forward.
  2. One knee will bend behind the body and the foot will reach for the glutes. With the same side arm as the leg that is bent, it reaches behind and grabs the inside or outside part of the foot, again depending on which is most comfortable.
  3. The other hand will reach up towards the sky. The bent leg then kicks into the hand as the body arches forward only slightly, not completely folding. Those who struggle with balance would stay here for half dancer pose.
  4. Someone with really good balance, focus, and shoulder mobility would go into full dancer pose. To get into it, the bent leg will kick into the hand more so that the leg can be reached higher up. Both hands will reach up and back to grab the foot whilst the chest stays facing forward.

This pose takes a lot of strength for the standing leg, and it needs a lot of shoulder mobility so that the arms can fully go into flexion to grab the back foot. Focusing the drishti (focal point) is of utmost importance in dancer’s pose, without it, the person will fall right out of the pose. 

How to Stay Safe in Natarajasana

Due to this pose needing a lot of flexibility in certain areas, it’s important to warm up the joints before getting into it. As mentioned before, the shoulders go deep into flexion in this pose. Therefore, some shoulder mobilizing and warming up needs to be done. It also needs hip flexibility. The hip can be warmed up by doing externally hip rotating poses like butterfly pose, where the souls of the feet come together, and the legs fall out to the side.

The dancer’s pose is also a backbend, so the spine needs to be warmed up as well. This can be done by doing some small backbends, side body stretches and twists before attempting the pose. Nothing too intense should be done with the back before getting into the pose otherwise the spine will tire and not be strong enough for the pose. For those who struggle with balance, bending the standing leg will also help to get deeper into the pose.

Conclusion on Natarajasana

Dancer pose can be seen as a basic pose but there are so many elements that come into play to get into it. It requires a lot of flexibility and focus. It also varies from one leg to the other, because flexibility is never the same for both sides. It’s a pose that many people have to work on for a long time before they get it. Natarajasana takes a lot of practice and perseverance as with any intermediate yoga pose.

Reference list:

Kaminoff, L. Natarajasana. Yoga Antomy. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://yogaanatomy.net/natarajasana/

Smyth, B. (2019, December 05). Pose breakdown; Dancer Pose. Alo Moves. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://blog.alomoves.com/movement/pose-breakdown-dancer-pose

YG Editors. (2007, August 28). Lord of the dance pose. Yoga Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/backbends/lord-of-the-dance-pose/

Image credit: https://pixahive.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/King-dancer-pose-Natrajasana-166418-pixahive.jpg

Kate Viljoen

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