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How to Safely Get into Dancer's Pose


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

You've probably seen a lot of images on yoga clothing company websites with people holding their foot so high above their head that your back hurts for them. While it looks very beautiful, it's not necessary for you to copy that exact look to be doing dancer's pose correctly. Here I'm going to break down natarajasana in the way I would teach it in an actual yoga class so that you can get into it safely and effectively.

A great way to try this balancing posture is to start in mountain pose. For a more detailed breakdown of mountain pose, you can check out How to Get the Most Out of Mountain Pose.

Transitioning to Natarajasana on the Right

  • Lower your left arm down to your side with your elbow bent and palm facing up.
  • Use your left palm to capture the inside of your left foot.
  • Your hand placement is important! Look at the picture below and see how her wrist is not twisted. There is a straight line from her shoulder to her fingertips. Her shoulder is also not being rotated in an unsafe way. She is able to square her shoulders to the front of her mat. If you hold the outside of your foot, it can be harder on your shoulders.
  • Extend your right arm straight out in front of you. Alternatively, you can bring your right palm to your heart.
  • Point your left knee down to your mat to prevent your left hip from opening out to the side.
  • Pull your left hip forward and your right hip back to square your hips to the front of your mat.
  • Even if you are just holding your foot next to your side, you are doing dancer's!
  • If you would like to extend, you can start to kick your foot into your hand.
  • Press your hand firmly back into your foot for stability.
  • Your upper body will naturally extend forward, but you do not need to force it.
  • Only kick your leg as far back as you can without opening your hip or straining your back.
  • Focus on a spot in front of you that is not moving for balance and focus. This is called drishti.
  • Invite a slight micro-bend to your right leg to avoid locking out your knee.

To do this pose on the left side, just reverse the instructions so that you capture your right foot in your right hand and extend your left arm forward.

Breath: Inhale mountain pose. Exhale lower your arm. Inhale capture your foot. Exhale kick back.

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer