King Dancer is a doozy, but you can do it! This pose requires balance, flexibility, and strength all at once; most importantly, it requires patience, time, and breath. When you are in this pose, your chest opens, your breath grows deeper, and you feel strong and stable with your foot rooting into the ground—it’s exhilarating! Take your time with this one: You have a whole lifetime (maybe more!) to get into it!
Before you think about making your way into king dancer, it is a great idea to make sure that your whole body is open, focusing especially on the hips, back, quadriceps, and shoulders. (I know, what’s left?!) Here are some poses to open you up so it's easier to come into King Dancer.
Active Child’s Pose: Start by kneeling, and crawl your hands forward, tenting your fingertips and engaging your shoulder blades down and together on your back, allow your head and neck to release. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
|Shoulder Opener: Still kneeling, place two blocks in front of you and place your elbows on the blocks. Press your hands together like you’re praying, then release your head in between the blocks and reverse the prayer down your back (so your fingers point toward your tailbone). Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths. (If you don’t have blocks, you can do something similar at a wall: Standing a leg’s distance away from a wall, hinge from your hips and release your forearms to the wall. Allow your head to release toward the ground. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths.)|
|Half Frog: Come to a supine position, lying facedown on your mat. Slowly rise onto your forearms and take 3 deep breaths here. Then, not allowing your knees to get too far apart, bend your right knee and bring your right hand to the top of your right foot, putting gentle pressure on it to open the quadriceps. Stay here for 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.|
|Reclined Hero’s Pose: From kneeling, separate your feet so that your sitz bones can come to the ground between your heels. (If this is uncomfortable on your knees, skip it!) Keeping your knees relatively close together (not touching, but not widening), slowly crawl your hands back until you are lying down on your mat. Take care to tuck your tailbone underneath you to mitigate the arch in your back. Reach your arms over your head, grab opposite elbows, and breath here for at least 10 deep breaths.|
|Cow Face Pose: Come onto all fours, and cross your right knee in front your left, winging your feet out to either side. Very gently use your hands to bring your sitz bones to the ground inside of your heels. Breath here for at least 5 deep breaths, then reach your left arm high, bend the elbow, and reach your right hand up the back, bending your right elbow, to clasp your left hand. Slightly press the back of your head back into your left forearm so that the arm is not pressing your head forward. Stay upright for at least 5 deep breaths, then hinge forward from your hips to forward fold. Stay here for 10 deep breaths, releasing the arms if they become too much. Repeat on the other side.|
|High King Pigeon: From down dog, step your right foot forward and tap your back knee down. Slowly crawl your hands up onto your right thigh and breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Bend your left knee, grab hold of the left foot and place it in the crook of your left elbow, then try to square off your hips. Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand back to clasp your left. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the left side.|
|Full King Pigeon: From down dog, sweep your right shin forward toward the front of the mat, making it as parallel to the front of the mat as your shin wants to get. Keep your left leg long behind you, toes untucked. Crawl your hands forward and relax in supine pigeon for 10 deep breaths. Then walk your hands back toward your shin until you are upright and bend your left knee. Grab hold of the left foot and place your it in the crook of your left elbow, then try to square off your hips. Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand back to clasp your left. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the left side.|
|Wheel: Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground hip-distance apart. Bending your elbows, take your hands to either side of your head, shoulder-distance apart, with fingers facing your shoulders. Pressing into your feet and hands equally, lift your hips and lengthen your arms. Keep pressing into your feet (especially through the big toe mound) and reaching your chest away from your feet as you stay here for 5 deep breaths. Be sure to tuck your chin to your chest before you slowly come down.|
|King Dancer: Now that your body is open, stand at the front of your mat holding a strap. Transfer your weight into your right foot, and, keeping your knees close, bend your left knee and loop the strap around the top of your left foot. Feel all four corners of your right foot rooting into the ground, soften through your right knee, and breathe for 5 breaths.|
|Hold the strap in your left hand and, giving yourself slack in the strap, bend your left elbow behind your head and start to lightly press your left foot into the strap, opening the shoulder. Bend your right elbow over and behind your head as well, and grab the strap with that hand, too. Breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths.|
|If this is comfortable, start to crawl your hands slowly down the strap toward your foot, breathing each hand along the way. (It’s super important to breathe!) One day—maybe today, who knows?!—when your body is ready, your hands will crawl all of the way down to your foot, and you’ll be able to drop the strap to ground. Voila! King dancer pose!|
Photos: Vera Boykewich