The Dancers Pose, also known as Nataraja Asana, in Yoga and pranayama, is a regal pose – as it should be. That’s because this pose’s Sanskrit name translates as dancer / nata, king or lord / raja, asana / pose.
It’s designed to improve balance and focus, and like most Yoga poses, Dancers Pose or Nataraja Asana starts in the Tadasana or Mountain Pose, standing straight up with your arms at your sides and your palms facing forward.
How to Do Dancers Pose
The Dancers Pose should be executed slowly and with focus, so before you start, take a few moments to center yourself in Tadasana. When you’re ready, follow these steps :
• Shift your weight from both feet onto one of your feet.
• Place one of your hands on the ankle on the same side, and then bend your knee while leaning forward, raising your leg as you move.
• Slowly and steadily align your hips and your knees.
• Hold the pose for a few moments while you ensure that you are balanced and centered.
• Now raise the opposite arm, extending it forwards and upwards, as though you were reaching for the sky.
• Continue to adjust the pose, until your raised thigh is parallel to the floor.
• Lean your torso forward as you move, aiming to have it as far forward as possible, so that you can still balance.
• Hold the pose for thirty seconds to one minute.
• Return slowly to the Tadasana.
• Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
The Dancers Pose or Nataraja Asana can be tricky for those new to Yoga, as it really does test balance. If you aren’t sure that you can maintain the pose on your own, use a wall to support the side of your body opposite to the raised leg. The wall will give you support from the side, so you can focus on maintaining your balance in two dimensions only. Gradually try it further away from the wall, until you’re confident you can try it on your own.
You can also use a Yoga strap (or a neck tie if you don’t have one), or limit your forward leaning in this pose until you feel confident of your balance.
Gradually, you will find that you can lean further forward, give up the props, and hold the pose for longer. There are also variations of the Dancers Pose that you can try later on, to test your balance and flexibility, or simply for variety.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Dancers Pose ?
The Dancers Pose or Nataraja Asana is primarily about improving balance and focus, but it does have several other health benefits too :
• Dancers Pose can help to relieve constricted chests.
• It helps to improve strength and flexibility in the ankle and knee.
• The Dancers Pose or Nataraja Asana strengthens the thighs, spine and torso.
• Nataraja Asana also stretches the legs, torso and back.
As a more advance Yoga pose, you can use Nataraja Asana to gauge your improvement in balance too. The more independently you can accomplish this pose, and the further forward you can lean while balancing, the better your balance is becoming – just be careful that you don’t over balance early on !
Dos and Don’ts of the Dancers Pose
While the Nataraja Asana is safe for most practitioners of Yoga, from the rank beginner to more experienced Yoga practitioners, it’s best to avoid any poses that focus on balance (like this one) if you are pregnant.
If you suffer from a lower back injury, or you have low or high blood pressure, this is also not a recommended Yoga pose. In fact, if you have suffered a serious injury, or you have any medical condition, you should always check with a doctor before trying any exercise or fitness regime – including Yoga.
Remember that just because it’s not high impact like aerobics, that doesn’t mean it’s not taxing on your body !
As always, however, if you have any doubt about whether it’s safe to do Nataraja Asana, consult your doctor or a Yoga specialist (or both !)