Natarajasana, also known as “Lord of the Dance Pose”, is an Intermediate level yoga pose which offers a powerful stretch throughout the entire body. The term “Nataraja” is derived from two Sanskrit words: “Nata” meaning dancer, and “Raja,” meaning king. It is said that by practising the Lord of the Dance Pose, the yogi opens up to the divine rhythm of life, synchronising breath and movement.
Step-by-Step Guide to Natarajasana
Start with practising Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to both warm up the body and help to find a sense of stability and balance. Bring your feet together and slowly move your arms wide, with palms facing down, moving the shoulder blades towards each other. Exhale and bend your left knee, bringing the weight onto your left foot while opening the right leg back. When your arms reach shoulder level, provide a slight lift and sweep into the pose by bringing your left foot up against your inner left thigh and pressing your right leg out as you slowly start to tilt your torso backwards. Inhale and lift your arms above your head, palms facing each other. Make sure to keep your chest open and your gaze ahead.
Hold the pose anywhere from 5-8 deep, slow breaths, and try to deepen every inhalation and exhalation. To come out of the pose, simply inhale, lift the arms up and slowly lower the right foot back onto the ground. Finally, come back to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and shake out the legs to release any tension left in the body.
Benefits of Natarajasana
Natarajasana is an excellent yoga pose to practice for overall development of the body and mind. As a backbend pose, Natarajasana helps to open chest and shoulders, resulting in an improved posture. Practising this posture strengthens the muscles of the back and legs, as well as massages the abdominal organs. It helps to reduce stiffness of the spine and strengthen the sense of balance. On an emotional level, it is said to relieve mild depression, as it often elicits a joyous feeling of expansiveness in the yogi. Natarajasana awakens the practitioner to their innermost energy, often bringing clarity and vibrant life force to their being.
Variations and Modifications of Natarajasana
More experienced yogis may find it beneficial to add a twist to the posture. To do this, begin by placing the left hand on the left knee, then slowly twist the torso to the left (without letting the left knee move). Place the right hand onto the floor and turn the head to look over the left shoulder. To better balance the pose, beginners can lightly press their palms together in front of their chest. Alternatively, Natarajasana can be performed against a wall for better support and ease in transitioning.
Tips for Practicing Natarajasana
It is important to practice Natarajasana properly and mindfully, in order to obtain maximum benefits. For those who are just starting out, try gently stretching out the leg and gradually increasing flexibility and strength through practice. Try to keep the breath steady and deep throughout the posture. Finally, keep the feet flexed, hugging the muscles inwards as this helps to stabilise the pose.
Natarajasana is a yoga pose full of potential, bestowing many benefits when practised with mindfulness and awareness. Enjoy the journey of deepening the pose, revealing new depths and layers within your yoga practice.