Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Here’s an unpopular opinion: I hate Dancer Pose, aka Natarajasana.
I know what you’re thinking, “you’re not allowed to say hate!”
I get it, hate is a strong word. I really just wanted to strongly express the dislike I have for Dancer Pose.
For years, I struggled with this pose. It wasn’t until after my Yoga Teacher Training that I was able to master the elusive pose.
It actually took me finding a new teacher for my own practice.
A teacher who could work with my plus size frame, to show me a better way to attain the connection between hand and foot instep.
It was definitely a feeling of accomplishment, as I put a lot of work into achieving it. Years of frustration and disappointment in my body were alleviated by simply knowing a different way to access the pose.
The true nature of Dancer Pose
In a true yoga class, Dancer is amazing for balance, core strengthening, shoulder opening, hip-opening; it’s a full-body extension.
But it’s been years since I have even been in a class that Dancer has been in the sequence. Classes I attend are focused more on a means of self-betterment through gentle stretches. Balance poses to help balance your mind, and unite the body and soul.
I have stopped attending power yoga classes, most Vinyasa classes, and I stopped trying to use yoga for cardio and weight loss and instead focused on the original intent: uniting the body, mind, and soul, and preparing the body for meditation.
But to be clear, it wasn’t my own struggles that made me despise the pose; if that were the case, Bow Pose would be my most dreaded of all the asanas, the big numero uno of self-criticism for me.
Where the shift occurred was with my growing investment of time on social media. As I grew my yoga business, and was essentially thrust into daily social media use, I discovered the overabundance of “yogi perfection” photos of the Dancer, and King Dancer in all of its glory and beauty.
Dancer on the beach. Dancer in front of national monuments. Dancer in front of historical sites. Dancer in front of an artist’s beautiful works of their heart. For me, Dancer has come to symbolize the egotistical world of yogis: “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!!!” I’m somewhere famous, look at me! Look at me attempting to be creative. Look at me not being comfortable with myself so I have to do something to impress you.
I’m not trying to say that posting a photo is evil and shouldn’t be done. I’m trying to point to the fact that this is warping our view of what yoga is, and how accessible it is for the average person wanting to start.
In all transparency, I’ve been known to throw down a pose or two for “the ‘gram”, not as often as Yoga Business Coaches have told me I should, but I have conceded to photography for business promotion.
In events where this has occurred, I have tried to at least link the pose with the situation. . . a Yogi Squat in tulip fields, a Tree Pose in front of a Christmas Tree, and Warrior 2 once or twice attributed to sheer lack of imagination.
Why Dancer Pose takes people further from Yoga
Dancer is everywhere on social media. Are you even a Yogi if you haven’t Dancer’d up on a cliff? It’s the throwdown in the dark side of the yogi world of striving to be perfect. It also perpetuates the false narrative of yoga as for only skinny, flexible white women.
I cannot even express to you enough the difficulty that a woman with thick thighs and a big ole booty have with attaining a proper connection for Dancer.
Throw in the commonality of a majority of the population spending way too long sitting at desks for 40 hours a week, with tight hips and quads, Dancer is not happening.
It’s not a practical pose for the everyday, average person; and certainly not encouraging for anyone even vaguely interested in beginning a yoga practice but already feeling a little insecure
In the hierarchy of yoga poses, Dancer is definitely an advanced pose. And the fact is, most classes aren’t geared for beginners.
In fact, I was taught in Teacher Training to teach the class at a higher level, to help students challenge themselves and level up their practice.
To offer modifications, but not to teach to the lowest level. I was taught to challenge the entire class and let them figure out where they fall.
Now, after a few years of teaching my own classes, I recognize how dangerous this approach is to the average student.
My goal has been to make yoga accessible, warm, and welcoming.
I strive to help people who have always wanted to try yoga to feel comfortable enough to show up. What is really important?
I have been approached numerous times by women who share that they “always wanted to try yoga”, but never have because they didn’t think they would fit in if they attended a class. It’s my unique attempt to de-westernize yoga, and return it to its origin as a spiritual journey for your soul.
To unite your mind, body, and spirit, not just in movement, but also in the lack of movement. To attain a focused mind, to experience Samadhi (the Sanskrit word for total self-collectedness) with the universe, God, the spirit, whatever you identify with for the higher power guiding this life.
These Instagram pictures challenge any attempt to expand yoga to make it accessible to the average person, by making the average person feel like they won’t fit in if this is what yoga looks like.
Posting a picture of Dancer Pose is not what yoga is. Yoga is not self-serving. Yoga is not showing off. Yoga IS about letting go of your ego. Instagramming your Dancer Pose is NOT Yoga.
If you desire to share your practice online, posting the ‘aesthetics of yoga’ – that’s fine! But make sure you are aware of why you are posting it, whether that reasoning is really in line with your intention to practice yoga, and what impact it may have on others’ perception of the practice and how they may fit in.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a consistent yoga practice and feel put off by the Dancer Poses plastered all over social media, remember that this is not reality.
I invite you to come to try that yoga class that you have been “considering” for so long. Come see that Instagram is not representative of normal yogis and true yoga classes.