3. Lord of the Dance Pose | Natarajasana
Lord of Dance Pose demands a mixture of balance, flexibility, strength, poise, and a heck of a lot of patience. That can be quite the heady yoga cocktail, but it is well worth the effort. Rock out your next Lord of the Dance pose!
- Strengthens the ankles, legs, core and arms
- Stretches the chest, shoulders, groins and abdomen
- Improves balance and concentration
To learn this pose:
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
- Inhale, shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee.
- Press the head of your right thigh bone back, deep into the hip joint, and pull the knee cap up to keep the standing leg straight and strong.
- Turn your left arm actively outward (so the palm faces away from the side of the torso), bend the elbow, and grip the outside of the left foot. (You can also grab the big toe with the first two fingers and the thumb.)
- The fingers will cross the top of the foot, the thumb will press against the sole.
- Inhale, lift the left leg up, and bring the thigh parallel to the floor. As you do this, rotate the left shoulder in such a way that the bent elbow swings around and up, so that it points toward the ceiling. It requires extreme flexibility to externally rotate and flex the shoulder joint in this way.
- Reach the right arm straight forward, in front of the torso and parallel to the floor.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, release, and repeat on the second side for the same length of time.
4. Hummingbird Pose | Maksikanagasana
Hummingbird is one of those poses that can still scare the crap out of the uninitiated. For those ready for a challenge, kick it up a notch and try this gorgeous arm balancing yoga pose. You really need open hips for this pose, so you may want to spend some time doing Butterfly, Pigeon, and Double Pigeonas a warm-up. It’s intense and very advanced, but as with most yoga poses, with a few tricks and some practice, you’ll have this pose down in no time.
- Opens hips
- Strengthens hips and upper body
To learn this pose:
- Start in a standing position. Bend your right knee and place your right ankle right above your left knee. Then bend both knees and squat down, keeping your right ankle in place, so your foot is hanging off the side of your thigh.
- Rotate your torso to the left so that your right foot comes in contact with your right tricep. You want your left thigh to be pressing against the outside edge of your right foot (it helps to keep your right foot from sliding off your arm). Rest your left hip on your left elbow for added support. Place both palms firmly on the ground.
- In order to balance, you need to put weight into your right foot, as if you’re stepping up onto the back of your right arm. Press into your palms and lift your left leg straight out, so that your left thigh is resting on your right elbow.
- Bring your gaze to your left toes and hold for five deep breaths. Then release by bending your left knee and placing your left foot on the ground, and then your right. Come up to stand, and then try this pose on the other side.