Not only is this pose super instagrammable, but Natarajasana stretches chest, abdomen, shoulders, thighs, hips, groin and ankles (probably quicker to mention what it doesn't stretch). Whilst standing on one leg obviously strengthens your balance, it also builds better posture, aids digestion and improves concentration.
Starting in tadasana, work on grounding down through all four corners of the feet and setting your gaze (your drishti) at a steady point in front of you. Start to shift your weight into your right foot until you can lift the left heel towards your buttocks.
Grab a hold of the inside of the left foot with the left hand, and extend your right hand up towards the sky. Keep reaching through the crown of the head as you hinge through the hips to kick the back foot into the left hand. Keep lifting the heart forwards and upwards as you start to arch through the spine, making sure to stay actively kicking the left foot into the left hand as you pull the left shoulder forwards.
Engage through the right quadriceps to stabilise the standing leg, and make sure to stay active in the core to protect the lower back. Once you're ready to come back to tadasana, lift the torso back to an upright position as you draw the left knee back besides the right. Slowly release the foot from the hand (try not to slingshot it!) and redistribute your weight evenly between your two feet.
The most common misalignments that pop up in this pose tend to be opening the lifted leg out to the side or letting the hip and shoulder follow the lifted leg behind you. Try to think square thoughts - traffic lights are all facing forwards, both shoulders and both hips evenly pointing to the front of the mat. If you find that your shoulder still wants to drag backwards, use a strap while you're working on your shoulder and chest flexibility.
If you notice that your limbs are flailing to the side or you're nosediving down to the floor, there's no shame in using a wall or chair to keep your balance while you focus on your other key points of alignment!
Obviously as a strong pose, side plank helps to build strength in the arms, wrists, core and legs. At the same time, it gives us a nice stretch down the side of our body and down the backs of our legs. Since it also helps to work on our sense of balance, it’s a great preparatory pose to build up strength and balance for arm balances.
Starting in plank pose, bring your feet together and shift the weight towards your heels. Spreading the fingers of your right palm, start to push your knuckles firmly into the mat. Your supporting hand should be stacked slightly in front of your shoulder, rather than directly underneath.
Start to roll to the outer edge of your right foot, keeping it flexed as you stack the left foot on top. Place your left arm onto your hip as you start to find your balance. Engage your core and feel your obliques, lifting the side of the body off the mat.
Once you feel balanced, start to reach the left arm towards the sky, keeping in line with the shoulder. Firm the triceps of both arms to find more strength and stability. Roll the shoulderblades away from the ears, lifting through the crown of the head.
To come out, lower the top hand to the floor, returning back to a plank as slowly and controlled as you can.
To Perfect this Pose
If your body looks like a hammock, with your torso sagging down to the ground, engage the obliques and imagine sending your hips to the sky. If you’re having trouble keeping even through both sides, you can drop the bottom knee to the floor as you work to build strength.
Hunching our shoulders doesn’t look comfortable, and it’s not great for our shoulder health. Push through the palm of the supporting hand, and imagine someone pulling your top hand to lift weight out of your shoulder. Strong legs also help to spread our bodyweight a little more evenly through our joints, so engage your inner thighs and glue your legs together.
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