Natarajasana 1 (Lord of the Dance)
I've always liked the name of this pose, even though it took me quite some time to get anywhere near mastering it! The video is brief, so please read all the instructions here carefully.
Start by shifting your weight onto your left foot. Obviously you should do this barefoot, spreading your toes out and distributing your weight evenly throughout the sole of the foot, but as I was in the countryside and it was rather muddy I kept my shoes on.
Extend your left arm and join your forefinger and thumb in chi mudra. Bend your right knee and hold onto your right foot or ankle. If you can't reach your foot, you can grab your trouser leg or even wrap a yoga belt or a scarf around your ankle and hold onto that. Pull backwards and upwards with your foot and gently lean your torso forward into the pose. In the more advanced version of this pose you will try to keep your torso upright, but don't worry about that just now.
Hold the pose for 5 breaths if you can, then gently come out of the pose and repeat on the other side. Always count the breaths you can hold a pose, so that you can try to hold it for the same amount of time on the other side.
This one was filmed near Madriguera, province of Segovia, during my little break in August.
Remember, balancing poses are difficult. They depend very much on your inner balance, not just on how advanced your practice is. So don't get disheartened if one day you do it really well and the next you don't. Don't be surprised either if one side is easier than the other. That's totally normal.
BENEFITS: Natarajasana stretches the shoulders and chest, thighs and groin. It strengthens the legs and ankles, and naturally improves your balance.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Ankle injury, lower back injury, arm/shoulder surgery or injury, knee injury, tennis elbow, vertigo.