How to build up to Natarajasana (King Dancer Pose)
It is possibly one of the most photogenic postures in yoga. I am sure you have all given this super duper elegant pose a try at some point in your practice. And it may have left you thinking: "Oh my gosh. I will never be flexible enough for it!". I have for a long time believed myself that this pose is only for hypermobile model type bodies. Yes! I am talking about the King Dancer Pose, Natarajasana in Sanskrit. Like any other more advanced asana, to get to this pose, you will have to prepare the body accordingly. So here is what you can do to lay the groundwork before you come into the full expression of "King Dancer Pose".
- Warm up: Always get your body nice and warm in the beginning of your practice. 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) A and a couple of B is a lovely way to get some heat into the muscles.
- Balance: Get your balance strong. Vrksasana (Tree Pose) is great to prepare your standing leg.
- Hamstring Stretching: Downward Dog, Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide legged forward fold), Warrior I, Parsvottanasana, Parivrtta Trikonasana
- Hipflexor Stretching: Access the hip flexors in low lunge, Warrior II, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (side angle pose)
- squaring the hips - posterior tilt: be mindful of the inward rotation of the thigh (f. ex. standing let in WarriorI)
- shoulders: flexion - external rotation + elbow flexion --> dolphin pose (hug the elbows in and hold the pose for 5-10 breaths)
- and finally! Chest opening: Sphinx, straight armed cobra, Danurasana (after lots of backbending, always neutralise the spine with plank and downward dog before embarking on forward bends)
After practicing all these asanas above you will be ready to try yourself in Natarajasana. Have a strap or a scarf ready and hook your ankle with it. Keep a strong standing leg and move your arms so the elbows are facing up, holding on to either end of the scarf or strap. Now pull your leg up behind you, keeping the interior rotation of the thigh and work your hands down the strap towards your foot.
You might be far from touching your leg at this point, but it doesn't matter. Try the asana again and again, always after having prepared your body thoroughly. Breathe, smile and be proud of yourself!