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Pose of the month: Natarajasana

In Dancer’s pose, we take either the inside or the outside of foot in our hand (or over time, ankle or shin). Shoulder alignment and elbow position are important. If you take the outside edge of your foot, the elbow bone will be facing out to the side. There will be an inward rotation of your shoulder head (think front of the shoulder rolling in towards your chest). However if you prefer to take the inside of your foot the opposite is true: your elbow crease will face outwards and your shoulder head will roll back. (This is the version I am doing in the photo).

Start with your knees together to align your hips. Raise the opposite hand up with the palm facing inward towards your centre line. The standing leg is strong, pressing into all four corners of your feet and engaging the quadriceps (thigh). Then kick the knee away from you and allow your torso to come forward. The back hand and foot resist each other: the hand is trying to draw the foot towards your glute but your foot is trying to kick away. The pelvis stays square, so roll your elevated hip down towards the floor and the inner thigh towards the sky.

Your back will be bending so it’s important to keep your core engaged, drawing your pelvic floor up and in and your belly back to your spine. Now lower your outstretched hand to eye level. Keep your eye gaze soft and either at your middle finger or just beyond, not down at the ground.

Finally, if your balance is not so great this can be done against the wall. Have the standing leg side of the body close to the wall and place your outstretched hand against the wall for support.

Dancer’s pose can teach us to remain balanced and calm amid physical or emotional storms. Notice the personal stories that play in your head as you practice this pose. Notice whether your breathing elevates and see if you can maintain a steady and even breath.

What is your relationship with your “edge” in this pose? Do you hang back, afraid of falling? Do you rush to your deepest version with something to prove? Or can you move slowly into it, breath by breath, and treat it as a dance with yourself rather than a pose to master?

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