Natarajasana, also call Lord of the Dance Pose, is a heart-opening, balancing pose that asks us to stay mindful and centered as well as unattached to outcome. Balancing postures are delicate dances that constantly evolve from moment to moment. By staying unattached, we can laugh at the uncertainty and open to what is. Warming the body and allowing fresh pranic-energy to flow is helpful before coming into this pose. Anatomically, you’ll want to open the shoulders, hamstrings and thighs. It’s also a good idea to prepare with slight backbends. Natarajasana is an expressive, cosmic dance inspired by the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva often appears to be dancing in a ring of fire called Samsara; the cycle of birth, life, and death. By coming into Natarajasana, or a variation of the pose, we are able to open our hearts and release the chaos surrounding us.
How to get into Natarajasana safely:
1. Standing in mountain pose (tadasana), ground through the left leg and foot as you lift your right heel back towards the hips. Keep a micro-bend in the standing leg to prevent locking it out.
2. Reach back with your right hand, thumb pointing toward the sky, and as the shoulder opens grab on to the inside edge of your right foot. Lift the left arm to the sky and reach.
3. Keeping the torso and hips relatively square to the mat, slowly start to open and press the heart forward as you hinge from your hips.
4. Press your hand into your foot and your foot into the hand to lift that right leg as high as it’s comfortable for you.
5. As the leg lifts behind you, the chest moves closer to being parallel with the earth.
To modify or go deeper into the pose:
If it is difficult for you to reach back and grab your foot, use a strap around the arch of the foot for an easier grip. Another option, instead of lifting the leg and lowering the chest would be to stay with the leg up, working on opening the heart, shoulders and quads. To move deeper into Natarajasana, allow the right shoulder to release and rotate so that the elbow points toward the sky. Reach back with the left arm until that elbow is also pointing up as you reach to clasp the right foot.
Cautions and Contraindications:
Be mindful of your hamstrings and shoulders. Only allow your body to open naturally without trying to force anything. Listen to your body and keep breathing. If you fall out of balance, just laugh and try again!