If you’ve been trying to get into the intermediate-level (and IG-worthy) full dancer pose, these tips will give you a helping hand.
The dancer pose (seen above) usually results in two reactions – total silence for full concentration or giggles because balancing is hard! It makes for a great yoga picture, but it is also a great leg exercise, hamstring stretch, as well as upper body opener.
Incorporate these tips into your yoga practice to gain the strength and flexibility to do other balancing postures.
(Also read: 7 Standing Yoga Poses That Will Improve Your Balance)
Focus on one spot and breathe well
Like all balancing poses, it is easier when you find something to look at and focus on. Having your eyes closed or wandering around shifts your gaze and focus, distracting you and your balance. It’s also not a good idea to hold your breath because it causes tension and stiffness.
Plus, when you’re out of breath, you will forcefully fall out of the pose which is both dangerous and a bad practice. Take it easy and go slow. Most importantly, never forget to breathe.
Stretch out your shoulders and hamstrings first
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A full dancer pose isn’t something that should be jumped into. It’s tougher than a normal dancer pose because you have to flip your grip to grab your lifted foot with both hands while you balance on the other foot.
While it provides a chest and hamstring stretch, it requires a fair amount of mobility to begin with. Before diving into the pose, do some shoulder and hamstring stretches so your muscles will be warm and active.
This will reduce the risk of injury and stretching, and can help you to get deeper into the pose by increasing your mobility and mind to muscle connection.
(Also read: How to Avoid Getting These Common Sports Injuries)
Engage your leg muscles to straighten your knee
The reason why some people find it difficult to do a dancer pose is because they rely heavily on their arms to lift their leg up. Your arms are meant to guide your lifted leg and to help it remain centred, but your legs should be fully engaged to straighten.
Not only will this take the weight off your arms, but engaging your legs will also make it easier to balance as your body will be in a more active position. Lock and lift your kneecaps to straighten your legs and engage both your quads and hamstring for support.
(Also read: 10 Lunge Variations For Longer And Leaner Legs)
Use a strap if you need to
Forget about ego because yoga is about connecting with your body and moving in a way that works best for it. If your shoulders are unable to externally rotate enough or you feel discomfort in doing so, there is no shame in using a strap.
Grab a strap and loop your foot into one end while holding the other end with both hands. Do not jerk your leg up as that can cause pain or cramps. Instead, move slowly and use the strap to inch your hands closer to your foot. Practice makes perfect. While there’s no such thing as perfection in yoga, you can find the perfect modification for your body.
(Also read: 6 Yoga Poses That’ll Help You Sleep Better Tonight)
Lower your chest
As you pull your leg up and towards your upper body, you might find that your upper body lifts in turn. This is because your legs are heavier than your upper body, but it is also because we tend to stand straight in hopes of balancing better.
However, in the full dancer pose, leaning forward and keeping your upper body parallel to the floor can actually help you to find your centre of balance. It also helps to straighten the legs and once your hips are stacked, you will be more stable in the pose.
(Also read: 9 Yoga Poses For A Perkier Butt And Stronger Glutes)