How to Do King Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana

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Also Known As: Lord of the Dance Pose, Dancing Shiva Pose

Targets: Legs, core, balance

Level: Intermediate

Yoga's most advanced postures often require putting together a combination of difficult skills. King Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) requires strong balance, intense back-bending, and open shoulders, all of which take time to cultivate. Take it step by step, stopping along the way whenever necessary. In a backbend sequence, it would come near the end, and you may follow it with Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana) as a counter pose.

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Watch Now: How to Strengthen Your Balance with Dancer Pose

Benefits

King Dancer Pose strengthens the legs, improves balance and core strength, and stretches the shoulders. It opens the hip flexors (psoas muscles) as a counter to tight hips that develop from too much sitting. Improving your balance and core strength helps in many daily activities and sports. You will also need good focus and concentration for this pose, training those abilities.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by standing tall in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your weight equally distributed in both feet.

  1. Shift your weight onto the right foot. Bend your left knee to lift your left foot off the floor. Keep your left knee hugging toward your midline throughout this pose.
  2. Grasp the instep of your left foot with your left hand. Your thumb is resting on the sole of your foot and pointing in the direction of your toes.
  3. Lift your right arm straight up to the ceiling. 
  4. Lift your left leg behind you as you bring your torso forward as a counterbalance. Remember that your left knee should not splay out to the side. Your right arm will also move forward.
  5. Kick your left foot strongly into your left hand to lift the leg higher and deepen the backbend. Keep your left toes active.
  6. Fix your gaze (Drishti) on something that doesn't move so that you don’t lose the balance.
  7. Hold 5-10 breaths.
  8. Lower your left leg back in line with your right. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Common Mistakes

You need a good base for King Dancer, so be sure to spread your toes on your supporting foot. Your knee should be slightly soft, not locked, hyperextended, or overly bent. You should engage your quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thigh) to keep your supporting knee soft.

Keep your hips square and knees aligned with the hips so you don't have a rotation that mars the alignment.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

Position yourself near a wall so you can reach out with your hand for balance if you need to.

If you have difficulty bringing your lower leg up or reaching it, you could use a strap to assist you.

Up for a Challenge?

When you feel very comfortable with the pose as described above, start to work on the following variations.

  • Work your left foot into the crook of your left elbow. Bend your right arm and drop your right hand behind your back to bind with your left hand. This is almost like a standing version of Mermaid Pose.
  • Shift your grasp on your left foot so that your left elbow is pointing up toward the ceiling. This requires coming into a deeper backbend.
  • Once you have hold of your left foot with the left hand from above, move your right arm into a parallel position and take hold of the same raised foot. The position of your arms and foot are similar to that of Full Pigeon. If you can't quite reach your foot with both hands overhead, loop a strap around the foot to help bridge the gap.
  • Balance and deepen the backbend.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have an ankle or back injury or if you have dizziness or balance problems. Be sure to protect your supporting knee by not locking it or hyperextending it (bending it too far backward).

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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