Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at lord of the dance pose (natarajasana).
About the Pose
Also known as “dancer pose,” natarajasana derives its name from Shiva — a Hindu god known as the lord of destruction. Shiva, who also uses the name “Nataraja,” rules over the eternal dance of life and death. Life is indeed a tricky dance, full of missteps and imbalance. Hopefully, this pose will show you that balance is possible. Don’t worry if it seems daunting at first because, as life and death prove, everything is temporary. Level: Intermediate Key Benefits:
- Develops better balance
- Stretches the lower back
- Opens the chest and shoulders
- Increases leg and foot flexibility
- Improves bad posture
- Tones the spine
- Because this pose requires flexibility in many areas, individuals with a knee injury, a slipped disc, or other type of injury should avoid this pose.
- People suffering from vertigo typically don’t find this pose very comfortable.
- Those with carpal tunnel syndrome or high blood pressure should consider their condition carefully before attempting this pose.
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana): This beginner pose improves balance, discourages flat feet, and strengthens the legs.
- Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana): This intermediate pose tests your balance while strengthening your back and legs.
- Boat Pose (Navasana): This intermediate pose engages your core and strengthens your hip flexors.
- Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III): This intermediate pose truly builds your balance and leg muscles.
Trying It Out
Remember to keep your breathing full and steady as you follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Begin in mountain pose (tadasana). Bend your right knee and lift your right foot until you can grasp your ankle with your right hand. Maintain your balance on your left leg.
Keeping your chin level, raise your left arm straight up beside your left ear. Press your tailbone to the floor as you lift your pubis.
Slowly stretch your right foot away from your body. Lift it until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
Slowly lean forward until your extended arm is parallel to the floor. Look forward.
Breathe in this pose for at least 15 seconds.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you grasping your ankle and not your foot?
- Is your standing leg straight?
- Is your right thigh parallel to the floor?
- Are you maintaining your balance?
- Full Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana): This advanced variation involves balancing your body on one leg as you stretch your other leg until the foot nearly touches the top of your head, providing a full backward bend.
- Shiva Twist Pose (Parivrtta Natarajasana): This pose provides a gentler stretch as you lift one leg up and balance on the other leg while lightly twisting your back.
- Lord of the Dance Pose With Chair (Natarajasana With Chair): By using a chair in front of you, you can still achieve a good back and hamstring stretch without the need to rely heavily on your own balance.