One of the most beautiful and most difficult poses is Dancer’s Pose. Natarajanasa is the Sanskrit name for the pose and it perfectly translates into “Lord of the Dance” pose. It is a pose that works so many parts of the body including the shoulders, chest, legs, spine, and abdomen. When you factor in the fact that the pose is done on one leg, it is amazing that so many people are able to go so deeply into it.
The keys to success in Dancer’s Pose are knowing what to engage and what to relax. You begin standing in Mountain Pose. With your hands at your side, you bend the left leg, reach back with the left hand and grip the ankle. You grip on the inside of the ankle so the shoulder can open up. While standing firmly on the right leg, you begin to press the left foot into the left hand so the leg bends back and the shoulder opens up. You then lower the chest toward the floor. The left shoulder needs to relax so the left arm can extend and the lifted leg can go straight up to the sky. You eventual goal is to bring the chest parallel to the floor and to lift the leg to the ceiling in a straight line. Once you have completed the right side, then you switch to the left.
This pose is challenging for beginners because the body needs to move so much while standing on one leg. Many yogis forget to breathe in the pose, especially there is so much going on in Dancer’s Pose. Even if you are just starting out in the class, you can simply work on grabbing the ankle and gently kicking the leg back and up. Do not forget to breathe and do not forget to lock the knee so you do not have to worry about wobbling.