Dan

(natarajasana)

Dancer Pose, also known as Lord of the Dance Pose, can help improve your balance and stability. This pose also helps to open your chest and strengthen your shoulders, arms and legs.

You may want to perform Dancer Pose to stretch your shoulders, back, hips and legs after you have spent all day sitting in a chair. If you are feeling distracted or unfocused, you can perform Dancer Pose to help improve your ability to concentrate.

Once you feel comfortable and balanced in the pose, you can try deepening the pose slightly by leaning forward more and stretching your raised leg up higher. Deepening the pose in this way will intensify the stretch and further challenge your balance. As you perform this pose, visualize yourself as a dancer radiating poise and grace.

You should be careful performing Dancer Pose if you have problems with your back, shoulders, hips or knees.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain

Pose, see page 120.

Bend your right knee and bring your right leg behind you.

• Make sure your knees are together and parallel with each other.

Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms are straight, but your elbows are not locked.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain

Pose, see page 120.

Shift your weight onto your left leg and foot and bend your right knee slightly to lift your right heel off the floor.

Bend your right knee and bring your right leg behind you.

Reach behind you with your right hand and clasp your right ankle or the top of your right foot.

• Make sure your knees are together and parallel with each other.

Raise your left arm to shoulder height in front of you, with your palm facing down.

Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms are straight, but your elbows are not locked.

I have difficulty balancing in Dancer Pose. What can I do?

If you find it difficult to balance in this pose, only perform steps 1 to below before holding the pose. Then repeat these steps for your other side. If you are still having trouble balancing, you can perform this variation using a wall for support. Stand beside a wall and raise your arm out to the side to place your hand on the wall for support.

What can I do if I cannot reach my foot in this pose?

Loop a strap around the top of your foot and then grasp the ends of the strap in your hand. Keep the strap taut, but do not use the strap to pull yourself into the pose.

How can I intensify the stretch in Dancer Pose?

To perform a more advanced version of Dancer Pose, you can reach your arm over your head to hold your foot behind you.

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Exhale as you press your left foot into the floor and lean your torso slightly forward.

Stretch your right leg away from your body and press your foot into your hand.

Keep your right knee directly behind you. Do not allow your knee to turn to the side.

Make sure your chest and hips are facing forward.

Allow your head and neck to follow the curve of your spine.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

10 To come out of the pose, bring your torso back to an upright position. Then release your right leg and return to Mountain Pose.

11 Repeat steps 2 to 10 for your other side.

(vrksasana)

Tree Pose is a standing balancing pose that provides a good stretch to your entire body. The pose can also strengthen your legs, ankles and feet and help increase the flexibility of your hips and knees.

To perform Tree Pose, you bend one leg and place the sole of your foot against the inside of your other leg. Standing on one foot, you then stretch your arms above your head. While in the pose, try to visualize your body stretching downward through your supporting leg, upward through your arms and outward through your bent leg.

You may find it difficult to maintain your balance in this pose. To remain steady, sink your weight down through your supporting foot. Imagine your supporting foot as a root that keeps you solidly planted in the ground. Gazing at a fixed point in front of you and breathing evenly can also help you maintain your balance. Make sure you take your time performing Tree Pose. It may take you a while to find your balance.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Place the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left leg as high up as is comfortable. Do not place your foot against your knee joint.

Bring your palms together at chest level in Prayer Pose.

Press the sole of your right foot firmly against the inside of your left leg and relax your bent right leg away from your hip.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Shift your weight onto your left foot and then bend your right leg.

Place the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left leg as high up as is comfortable. Do not place your foot against your knee joint.

• Point the toes on your right foot toward the floor.

Bring your palms together at chest level in Prayer Pose.

Press the sole of your right foot firmly against the inside of your left leg and relax your bent right leg away from your hip.

What can I do if I have difficulty maintaining my balance?

If you find you cannot maintain your balance in Tree Pose, you can stand beside a wall and place one hand on the wall for support while performing the pose. Once you feel stable, you can remove your hand from the wall and raise your arm above your head. You can also steady yourself by standing with your shoulder blades and buttocks against a wall as you perform the pose. When you are confident in your ability to remain balanced in Tree Pose, try performing the pose away from a wall.

How can I make Tree Pose more challenging?

You can perform Tree Pose with your eyes closed to make the pose more challenging. When you do not gaze at a fixed point in front of you, you challenge your ability to remain balanced. In addition to keeping your body balanced, closing your eyes can challenge you to focus your mind.

Press the sole of your left foot into the floor.

Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, keeping your palms together, and stretch out through your fingertips.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze at a fixed point in front of you.

• Visualize yourself stretching in three different directions at once — downward, upward and outward.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and then return to Mountain Pose.

10 Repeat steps to 9 for your other side.

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