I love to dance. Dancing is scientifically proven very good for you: it lowers the stress level. The hormone cortisol rises when you experience stress. That is annoying because cortisol gives complaints such as fatigue, craving sugar, negative mood or gastrointestinal complaints. By dancing you literally move the stress out of your body and with it the negative effects of stress. Yoga also helps to lower your stress level, for example in this dancer’s pose. But how do you do this pose with more ease when balancing on one leg? These 5 tips will help!
What is a dancer’s pose?
It is a standing balance pose with a backward bend. In yogi jargon this asana is called Natarajasana; king of the dancers. Nata means dancer and raja means king. This pose demands a lot of your arm, back and leg muscles, especially your hamstrings. And also the joints in your shoulder blades, spine and hips are challenged. Officially you hold one foot with two hands and stretch your leg as far as possible, so that you can bring your foot towards your head. As you can see in the photo, I can’t do that.
Where is the difficulty?
The biggest challenge in this asana is not so much the flexibility of your joints and muscles or finding (and holding) your balance. No, the biggest challenge is breathing. The freedom of movement in the diaphragm is reduced in this asana by the combination of a hollow back and the strength of your buttocks and leg muscles. These work against each other which makes it difficult to breathe deeply and with ease. The necessary muscle power to do this asana is greater than the ability of the body to supply muscle with oxygen. The longer you are in this pose, the deeper the body has to breathe and the more the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm have to give up their stabilizing. In short, there is a good chance that you will fall over. When I first did this asana, I regularly fell over. That was very frustrating, so I went looking for alternatives to keep doing this asana with more ease and fun.
I can’t grab my one foot with both hands. What I can do is hold it with one hand and this became my new starting point. These alternatives have helped me to not fall over in the dancer pose. I hope they help you too. Do not forget: do what feels right for you. Experience where your boundaries are and do not go over them (too much). When you listen to your body, it will be able to work with you.
- A good warm up is half the work. Make sure the body is well warmed and keep that heat with you by wearing extra clothing. I like to wear an extra fleece sweater and leg warmers over my leggings. The warmer you are, the smoother the muscles and joints are.
- Start with two feet on the floor, close the eyes and then breathe in and out gently. Hold with the right hand, the right foot by the ankle or the foot itself. If it feels better, you can grab the shin.
- Bring the knees together and find your balance by breathing gently.
- At the next inhalation, extend the left arm, and at the exhale, bend forward. If you can, bend forward so that the left arm is a straight line above the ground. If not, just hold wherever it is comfortable for you.
- Breathe in and out a few times to stay in balance. When you feel able to stand stable, you can push the right leg up a little further. Stay in this asana for four breaths.
Are you going to try this? Let us know how it went. Good luck!