Asana for Exploration 6: Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose)

Fun with a friend or a wall (or a friendly wall?)

Fun with a friend or a wall (or a friendly wall?)

This morning during practice, I was working a Kundalini Kryia which called for about 8 minutes or so of dancing. As is typical during moments like these, I have crazy flash-backs from the past where something pops into my mind that I have not thought about in years! This time is was a period in my life when as an undergraduate, one of my best friends and I would attend discos at the Queen Margaret Union, The University of Glasgow. Yes, that was a flashback to the early 80's!

When thinking about hour after hour of dancing and how liberating life used to be compared to now. Having responsibilities of raising two children, being a home owner, having a full-time job and teaching it is difficult to find time to just go out and dance. But this is something I would LOVE to do again. Music, dance, laughter, mini-skirts, good friends, good times. Where have the years gone?

Fast forward into the present and thinking about dancing, Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose) for me is probably one of the most challenging balance poses in our standing series. Next to Bird of Paradise (Svarga Divijasana), this pose really tests balance, strength back extension and hip extension to the nth degree! 

Named after the Hindu God Shiva, Natarajasna translates from the Sanskrit as "king dancer posture", where Nataraja is the form this deity takes as a cosmic dancer. Ready to groove? First off, do not try this in a mini-skirt, but feel free to put on some of your favorite tunes to help sequence into the pose.

Begin standing with legs together reach back for one leg as you bend at the knee and reach for the INNER edge of the foot. Take note that if you catch the outer edge you are more likely to take the thigh into external rotation loosing the action of having the hips squared. Simply stand knee to knee to enjoy a nice quad stretch and reach the opposite arm up.

To progress, begin to kick the foot that is being held into the hand and begin to lean forward to test standing balance. Breathe deep into the collar bone to open up the heart and engage into the upper back extension.

A belt is useful to have handy if reaching for the back foot is not an option, also this pose is great with a partner, stand face to face and bring front palms together to offer a lending hand to each other.

The following will take you to a three dimensional view of the body and the muscular connections this pose invites. Use this as a resource to learn and understand how build on awareness through knowledge, not just physical strength in the body. 

Please Note: If this or any yoga pose caused direct pain, numbness or just does not feel right to you, please stop. Your yoga practice should never hurt, seek advice from a qualified instructor or a medical practitioner.