HOW TO PRACTICE Lord of the Dance Pose IN YOGA (Natarajasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Lord of the Dance Pose
Lord of the Dance Pose (Sanskrit name: Natarajasana) is a challenging and aesthetically beautiful standing balance yoga pose. Natarajasana challenges the body to balance and backbend simultaneously. Because of this, it’s important to prepare the body for both of these demanding actions before you practice it.
The name of the pose refers to one of Shiva’s many forms—the Cosmic Dancer. In this form, Shiva is said to uphold the balancing elements of creation and destruction in the universe. In artistic representations of the Cosmic Dancer, Shiva is surrounded by fire, symbolic of the many distractions and hardships in life.
Within this circle of fire, Shiva stands balanced, untouched by the outside world in his transcendent ecstatic dance, grounded within himself amidst the chaos just beyond his fingertips. Like Shiva in his ecstatic dance, Natarajasana asks us to be patient and present with the here and now, focusing on balancing and allowing the asana to expand from the inside out.
Benefits of Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana strengthens the back, shoulders, legs, ankles and feet. The yoga posture also stretches the abdomen, along with the quadriceps and hip flexors of the lifted leg. The spine is extended as it arcs into the Ardha Dhanurasana (Half Bow Pose)-like position and the shoulders and chest of the back leg open expansively.
Like all balancing yoga poses, Lord of the Dance builds a sense of focus and mental clarity. An additional challenge to proprioception is provided by the asymmetrical nature of the one-legged stance. The backbending element offers strengthening to the postural muscles along the spine.
As is the case in yoga postures that create a spacious opening in the chest, Lord of the Dance Pose may also increase your energy level. This is particularly true when you take the opportunity to create a deep sense of engagement and connection from the crown of your head all the way to the toes of your back leg.
Basic King Dancer Pose
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Plant your feet into the floor and rise up tall through your spine.
- Shift your weight onto the left foot. Press your left foot down into the floor and lift your ribcage—front, back and sides—up away from your pelvis.
- Keeping your hip extended, bend your right knee and reach your right hand behind you, toward your foot. Hold onto the inside of your foot (palm facing toward your foot).
- Press your right foot into your right palm, creating resistance in your arm by pressing back into your foot with your hand.
- Lift your left arm up toward the ceiling, next to your head. Continue pressing your foot into your hand. Balance here for a few breaths.
- If you want to challenge your balance further, lift your right leg up behind you to initiate extending your torso forward. Make sure you bend forward from your left hip joint, not from your waist, and continue to lift your right leg up behind you.
- Lengthen the back of your neck, extending the base of your skull away from your shoulders and drawing your chin back.
- Stay for several breaths; continuing to ground your legs.
- With control, gradually reduce the pressure in your hand, and lower your right leg as you rise back up to standing.