By JACCI GRUNINGER MS, C-IAYT, ERYT500
Natarajasana, also known as Lord of the Dance Pose or Dancer Pose honors the Lord of the Dance, Nataraja. The name comes from three Sanskrit words: Nata (dancer); Raja (king or lord) and Asana (pose). This also is one of the many names used for Lord Shiva while he is in his dancing form.
Lord Shiva is considered one of the first teachers of yoga. If you recall from a prior post, he is also the God of creation and transformation. In his dance form, Shiva is usually depicted within a ring of fire (remember Tapas – fire, transformation?).
The cobra around Shiva’s neck is representative of the veil of delusion we all carry with us (remember MAYA from last week’s post?).
This delusion keeps us from truly knowing ourselves. In this version, Shiva has four arms: one holds fire (agni) which symbolizes life and rebirth; another hand holds the hand gesture of Abhaya Mudra which is a gesture of fearlessness; the third holds a musical instrument and the fourth hand points to his dancing feet.
This posture encourages us to become fearless, grow and expand. It helps us to know ourselves better and to become free. The pose is about transformation and how we navigate through our lives.
Some days we might practice this posture with grace, smoothness, and a sense of flow. Other days, we might feel agitated, unbalanced, restless making it hard to get into and stay with the pose. This is our day-to-day work off the mat as well. Creation – Transformation.
Dancer pose helps to strengthen and lengthen the lower back, biceps and triceps, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, chest, hips and quadriceps. It is not a beginner pose, but like all poses, you can modify the pose to receive many of the same benefits until you are ready to do the full posture.
Traditional Posture Instructions:
- Stand in Mountain (Tadasana) Pose;
- Inhale and bend your right knee toward your right buttock;
- Take hold of your foot with your right hand;
- Inhale and lift your left arm up to the sky;
- Exhale and press your foot into your hand, hand into your foot and begin to hinge forward from the hips. (Keep the back long and gaze out over your left middle finger); and
- Hold for 6-10 breaths.
Ways to modify the pose:
- Use the wall or a chair/counter to help with balance;
- Practice from table pose (hands and knees) to get an idea of the muscles/balance involved;
- Practice from a side lying position to get the quad/shoulder/front belly stretch; and
- Use a strap with a loop around the end to hold your foot (strap goes over the shoulder.
Jacci Gruninger is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. Teaching for more than two decades, she spent 12 of those years training yoga teachers for the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts. She helps clients manage the ups and downs of life with yoga, meditation, breathwork and bodywork. Her Yoga Therapy Center is at 190 Central Park Square #212. For her in-person and online teaching schedule and information on other services, visit www.yogawithjacci.com.
How to practice dancer pose. Courtesy photo
An image of Lord Shiva. Courtesy photo