Natarajasana – Dancer’s Pose

Dancer yoga pose

Dancer’s Pose – Part 1

Nataraja is a depiction of Lord Shiva as the Cosmic Dancer. His divine dance symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, the purpose of which is to release humankind from the ignorance produced by the illusion of the ‘self’ as separate from the rest of creation.

On a physical level Natarajasana stretches the shoulders, chest, thighs, groins and abdomen, strengthens the legs and the ankles and improves balance.

Complementary Postures

 

How to do Natarajasana

  • Start in Tadasana.
  • To set up, take your left elbow to your waist with your palm facing out and up like you’re holding a tray.
  • Bend your left leg and take hold of the inside of the ankle (without rotating the wrist).
  • Bring your knees together to ensure that the hips are square, lengthen your tailbone, engage the core and reach your right arm to the sky. Ground the supporting leg.
  • Press the left foot firmly into the hand and press the leg back and up. Make sure you also pull on the foot with the hand to keep the chest, back and shoulder engaged (which will make it easier to breathe). Roll the left hip forward.
  • Keep the chest lifted as though there were a wall in front of you preventing you from tipping forward. You will notice that this makes Natarajasana a very deep backbend, made more challenging by the fact that the posture is asymmetric. Just take it slowly and the pose will help you develop balance and concentration in spades.

Don’t forget to do the other side too!

And take Uttanasana afterward – your body will thank you!

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Dancer’s Pose – Part 2

Natarajasana is a challenging and deeply energizing backbend. The full expression of this pose (pictured) requires a great deal of flexibility in the spine, shoulders and psoas. It also requires core and leg strength.

Use the opposing actions of the muscles in the body to create a state of balance and equilibrium.

How to do Dancers Pose

Bend the left arm with the elbow tucked into to the waist and the palm facing out and up, like you’re holding a tray.

From here things get a little complicated so stick with me. With the palm still facing up, reach back and lift the elbow forward and then up to the ceiling so that you can externally rotate the shoulder enough to take hold of the outside of the left foot. Now internally rotate shoulder to square the chest and see if you can lift the leg higher. Give yourself time to adjust the grip and stabilize the pose from the ground up.

Now take hold of the foot with the right hand as well. Lift the left leg out of the hip socket and up to the sky by pulling the arms up and forward. The chest is lifted, the gaze is forward and the is core strong. Make sure the breath can still move freely.

Modifications

If you’re working towards full Natarajasana but the grip of the foot with its strong shoulder rotation remains outside of your reach, no problem! Use a strap.

Make a loop with the strap, hold it in your left hand and slide your foot into it. Pull on the strap to lift the leg and with the chest square take hold of the strap with the right hand also. As your strength and flexibility improves once you’re in the pose you can shorten the strap until you can hold the foot without it.

Don’t forget to do the other side too!

 

Shades of Yoga is a yoga teacher training company running year-round yoga teacher training courses in Bali and Costa Rica.