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How To Do Dancer Pose To Improve Your Balance & Flexibility

Woman doing dancer pose in blue yoga outfit
Image by mbg Creative
July 19, 2022

It's no secret that balance and flexibility can help support you in a variety of areas throughout your day, from picking something up off the floor to making sure you don't fall while going for a run. And while this comes naturally to many people, formatting your workout routine to enhance these skills can make a world of difference in your other forms of exercise. Yoga is one of the best ways to get started on your journey to better balance, and one of our favorite ways to practice flexibility is with the dancer pose.

Don't get discouraged if you're a beginner at yoga; with practice you'll be able to work up to this move. However, if you do feel up to the challenge, yoga instructor Phyllicia Bonanno outlines exactly how to nail dancer pose for stretching and lengthening your body to improve balance and flexibility.

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How to do dancer pose.

Image by mbg Creative / mbg Creative

Demonstrated by Bonanno.

How-to:

  1. Come to a standing position.
  2. Ground down through your left foot. Bend your right leg behind you. Grab the foot from the big toe side.
  3. Reach and extend your left hand up toward the sky. Pull yourself forward. As you open up, push that foot into your hand.
  4. Hold for a few breaths, then come out of the pose.

Form tips.

This may sound like broken record advice, but bracing your core and finding a point of focus in front of you are the two most important steps for maintaining balance. Grounding your foot into the floor and maintaining a long line throughout your body will also help to keep you steady, but engaging your core is the most important step as this is the base of your strength. 

Keeping your sights set facing forward on a singular point will help avoid wavering, and you should remain focused and calm as you breathe through this pose. But don't get frustrated if you struggle at first; anything that requires single-leg balance is naturally going to be more difficult (but bonus: it will support longevity, according to research).

Finally, keep your hips square so that both hip bones are pointed to the floor. You may feel inclined to angle more toward one side, but keeping your hips even is what's going to challenge your flexibility the most.

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Modifications & variations. 

Warrior 3

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

How-to:

  1. From a warrior 1 position, ground down through your front foot.
  2. Peel the back toes off the ground, and swing your arms behind you.
  3. Push your back leg up, creating a straight line from toe to torso. Hold for a couple of breaths.

Quad Stretch with Resistance Band

Quad Stretch with the Band
Image by Michelle Duvall
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Demonstrated by Michelle Duvall.

How-to:

  1. Take a resistance band or towel and wrap it around the right ankle. 
  2. Hold a chair with the left hand. 
  3. Begin to draw the knees toward each other, and pull the band or towel lifting the right heel toward the bottom. 
  4. Create more of an active stretch in the quadriceps by pushing the right foot into the towel or band. 

Tiger Pose

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

How-to:

  1. Start with your right arm and left leg extended outward.
  2. Bend your left leg and reach for it with your right hand.
  3. Grab your foot and push it into your hand, opening up your chest.
  4. Hold for a couple of breaths, then release back to the ground.

Add it to your routine.

Making balance and flexibility a priority within your workout routine may not sound particularly glamorous, but it can make a significant difference in your day-to-day life and other workouts. Struggling with back tension as well? Dancer pose actually doubles as an excellent release in the upper back, so this 12-minute flow from Bonanno will be a great fit following a strenuous upper-body workout.

For a full-body approach to balance, this roundup of 15 moves is the perfect place to start to nail down your form and improve your flexibility. Just remember, if dancer pose doesn't come easily at first, begin with a modification until you've built up a base of strength.

Merrell Readman
Merrell Readman
mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.