Friday, April 22, 2011

Find Your Inner Dancer

Have you ever wanted to be on "Dancing With The Stars" or "So You Think You Can Dance?" Well, even if you have two left feet, you still can become a dancer in your yoga practice. To me, dancing is simply free movement of the body. It may be movement to music or just walking down the street. Both can be considered dance. It doesn't necessarily have to be about holding a beat or moving to choreography. Dance can be thought of as being free in your own body and moving as you please.

The aforementioned television reality shows are composed of choreographed dance movements to music. But have you ever just turned up your stereo and freely danced about the house to your favorite song? Allowing the rhythm of the music move the energy within you? THAT'S DANCE! What ever steps you make up to no particular beat is YOUR choreography. How you move makes you special and unique. For your home practice, you will hone in on your inner dancer and raise that powerful energy.

Dancer Pose or Natarajasana is a one-legged balancing pose that strengthens and lengthens your legs, opens your hips and shoulders, and also contributes to inner focus and balance.

Start by standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Bring your feet together so that the inner edges of your feet as well as your knees and inner thighs are touching. Be aware of your balance as you stand on two feet. Be sure your feet are rooted strongly into the earth and you maintain an internal connection with your legs. Bring you hands to heart center and bring focus to your breath. After about 5-10 breaths to establish your connection within, bring your arms down by your side. Then, kick your right leg back while keeping your inner thighs connected. Reach back with your right hand and grab hold of the inner edge of your foot. (Your thumb will be showing on top while the rest of your fingers will be wrapped around underneath.)

With an inhale, extend your left arm overhead. Make sure your inner thighs are still connected. Your gaze is still forward. Exhale to establish a strong connection to your core then slowly begin to tip forward. Your right knee will start to slide away from your left knee, but be sure it remains in this alignment and does not stray away from your center. Meanwhile, your upper body is leaning forward while maintaining a straight spine. If you are new to this pose, stay here and continue your breaths. Your focus will be slightly forward. Focus on something out in front of you that is not moving. Concentrate on your stillness, balance, and internal energy. Further, focus on the unique individual that you are.

Dancer Pose is a standing one-legged backbend, so If you'd like to go further, follow these directions. While still moving your right knee toward the back of the room, start lifting your toes up toward the ceiling. At the same time, feel your heart lifting as if it is moving up toward the ceiling as well. This will naturally put you into a back bend. Again, be sure your right knee does not stray away from your center. Continue to move along the same alignment. Hold for 5-10 breaths in your Dancer Pose variation. When you are done, return to Mountain Pose to regain your original balance then proceed to follow these instructions on your left foot.

Nataraja is another name of the Lord Shiva and his dance symbolizes cosmic energy. Become the lord of your own dance! (Nata = dancer, Raja = lord or king) Move forward in your life journey with grace, energy, balance, and focus. Namaste.

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