What Is the King Dancer?

Rebecca Harkin

The king dancer pose is an advanced yoga move that requires balance and flexibility and can be broken down into four elements. This pose begins by standing on one leg, grasping the ankle of the opposite leg with the hand, and pushing the leg backward behind the body. To counterbalance the move, the free arm is raised forward. The raised leg is then lifted even higher so that the foot is positioned above the head. This position is secured by bringing the free arm around the head and grabbing the opposite forearm.

Woman doing yoga
Woman doing yoga

To begin the first parts of the king dancer pose, the student should stand with his feet positioned under his hips. He should then place both hands on the sides of his hips. Next, he should lift the left leg upward in front of the body while bending the knee so that the angle between the upper and lower leg is about 45 degrees. Last, the student should flex the foot upward and allow the left arm to fall slowly away from the hip and down to the side of the body. The student should stop here to center his balance and take a few breaths.

In the second movement of the king dancer pose, the student should grab the outside of the left ankle and pull upward slightly while allowing the left knee to lower. The tailbone should then be pulled slightly forward. Next, the student should raise his right hand until it is parallel with the floor with the palm facing upward.

Gradually, the student should tilt his body forward while simultaneously pulling the leg upward behind the back until the raised back leg is parallel with the ground. The outstretched arm and upper body should counterbalance the leg. This is the end of the second part of the king dancer pose and is a good place to halt to focus and breathe.

During the third element of the king dancer pose, the left foot is gradually raised up above the head so that the knee is almost even with the left shoulder. To help maintain balance during this part, the student should lock his gaze on an object directly ahead and press his weight down into the heel of the right foot. Once the leg is fully raised, the student should pause to feel the stretch and breathe.

The final part involves lowering the left leg while simultaneously lifting the chest and raising the right arm above the head. Next, the hold of the left hand on the left foot shifts out to the toes while the left elbow moves up to point toward the sky. The right arm reaches behind the head and grabs the left forearm. Pushing the leg up and out, the student will further stretch the legs, chest, and back. This position is held while focusing on breathing, stretching, and balance.

To finish the king dancer pose, both hands are released and the arms are extended and circled over the head and returned to the hips. The student then lowers the left leg until the knees are beside each other. This position is held for a moment, and then the left leg is extended upward in front of the body and then down to the ground. After resting for a short time, this entire routine is then repeated on the other side of the body.

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