Natarajasana aka Lord of the Dance Pose

dance pose yoga
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Natarajasana or Lord of the Dance pose yoga is a popular asana that can improve your strength, flexibility and digestion. This asana is based on Lord Shiva and a way to feel liberated from your fears. By overcoming your fears, you can embrace birth and death and the world around you.  A great leg workout, perfecting this asana can help calm the mind while improving your physical and mental health.

Exploring Natajarasana Lord of the Dance Pose

Natarajasana is derived from the Sanskrit root words Nata (Dancer) and Raja (King or Lord). This Dance pose is based on Lord Shiva, a Hindu deity who was referred to as Lord of the Dance. It’s believed that he destroyed the universe and recreated it. Nataraja is a name given to Lord Shiva’s dancing avatar as he danced to restore balance in the universe and rejuvenate himself.

Freeing Your Mind and Receiving Eternal Energy

King Dancer Pose is a way to become free and fearless in your mind as you focus on opening the chest wall and stretching the legs. Ideally, the embodiment of this pose is that your energy is eternal and never changes despite what your body might go through over the years. Hence it’s a way to overcome challenges and find happiness and bliss despite the chaos around you.

Another interpretation is that you may face a host of problems and negative events in life but you’re only limited by your thinking. By considering the circle of life, i.e., day, night, the seasons, you’re better able to adapt to whatever’s thrown your way. This is achieved by finding and maintaining your inner balance and peace – fearlessly, of course!

While offering a vigorous workout, this asana is considered one of the sources or fountains of yoga. This advanced pose can prove challenging for beginners and it may take several tries before you master it. Hence, it’s important to focus without distractions as you are turning and twisting your mid back region and holding your foot. It’s a deep stretch to the arms and legs that may take time so work with an experienced yoga trainer who can help you keep the correct position.

Flow Yoga Sequences

As a base pose that can give you an energy boost, you will find that there are other variations of Dancing Pose. Included in different types of flow yoga sequences, Dance Poses is very favorable. You’ll find it in hip and heart opening sequences, teens yoga and kids yoga.

Dancer Pose Yoga stretches and incorporates several muscle groups. These include the quadriceps, chest, low back, hamstrings, hips, psoas, triceps and biceps. .

Benefits of Dance Pose Yoga

Dance Pose Yoga is beneficial to several muscle and body groups. These include the legs, ankles, shoulders, chest, groin, thighs and abdomen. This asana works to improve balance and tone the muscles in the shoulders, chest all the way to the hips and feet. You’ll also find that this pose is used in Indian classical dances like Bharatnatyam.

Because the pose helps the student develop concentration and grace, don’t rush through the steps. This is a difficult standing pose that’s both a heart and back opener. And yet, it’s quite blissful the amount of flexibility and balance that you will eventually develop. Given that this aesthetic pose takes an immense amount of power and poise, it’s no wonder yogis and yoginis work so hard to master it. 

Targeted Muscle Groups

The beauty in this asana is that it develops muscles in different ways. When you lift the leg higher than the hip, you’re increasing strength and giving a deep stretch to the calves, quadriceps and hamstrings. The spine also benefits as you tone and strengthen the surrounding muscles. Abdominal muscles are stretched and as they expand, this can aid in digestion.

Other Natarajasana benefits include that this pose decreases joint pain, can reduce a hunched back and can activate the thyroid as you stretch your neck upward.

As you do the backbend, you’re toning the hips and balancing your body which can improve your memory and concentration. The upper arms and shoulders also receive toning with this pose, while you increase the breath space with the chest wall expansion. 

Precautions

Most asanas have some sort of challenge to them especially for beginners. Here, you’ll find that the balance and bending the low back while you’re standing may take time to achieve. Combine that with the extended leg that’s curled up and you’ll see why it’s best to practice this pose with an experienced yoga instructor. However, don’t give up as you reflect on the symbolism of this pose.

Envision Lord Shiva’s dance at a ring of fire as he stands on one leg. Hence, the pose is meant to encourage a shift to more centered thoughts and away from brain fog that might inundate you day-to-day.

This pose requires step-by-step instructions to achieve. It requires a lot of flexibility and should be done by those with strong thigh and back muscles. Do not attempt this pose if you have any back or leg injuries or pain, or if you had a recent surgery to your back, legs, feet or knees. If  you suffer from a slipped or herniated disk it’s also best to avoid this King Dancer Pose as it adds a lot of pressure to the lumbar region of the spine.

Additionally, you’ll want to avoid this asana if you suffer from carpal tunnel as you will have to twist your hand to lock onto your toes and stretch the leg up. 

Preparatory Poses and Modifications

A few tips can help with King Dancer Pose especially as it takes time to balance on one leg while curling the other and stretching it up. Practice initially next to a wall or with someone else to increase your stability and avoid falling. Ideally you should only practice with an experienced yogi or yogini who can ensure the correct movements.

Modifications and Deepening Dancer Pose

If you’re a beginner, you may find that your leg will cramp in your hamstring when you lift it. Keep your ankle flexed as you raise your leg and draw your foot near the top towards your knee.

If you have trouble raising your leg, use a yoga wrap or strap that you can tie to your ankle and pull the leg to you. Some students suffer from inflexible hips. To combat this, bring your foot near your elbow and then twist your low back while raising your leg with your elbow. Try holding for a few inhalations and exhalations to increase your balance and confidence.

To deepen your asana, pull your elevated foot with your hand and after completing your pose, take a breath and lift your free hand up and then bend your elbow as you grab the inside of your elevated heel. 

Preparatory and Follow-Up Poses

A few preparatory poses might assist to help increase your leg strength for Dancer pose which is a balancing pose. These include Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Other poses include Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Paryankasana (Couch Pose), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged King Pigeon Pose) or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).

For your follow-up poses, keep in mind that Dancer position is usually near the end of your final poses and backbends. Try closing out with Ardha Uttanasana (Half Uttanasana) to release your spine and low back.

FAQs

What is Dancers Pose Good For?

Dancer pose can increase your balance, improve your concentration and mental clarity and help to reduce stress and depressive thoughts. It’s also essential for opening the lungs and chest wall and can reduce obesity and excess fat. While improving memory and mental health, you can also strengthen weak knee joints. 

What is Dance Pose in Yoga?

Dancer Pose is often referred to as Lord of the Dance position. It’s a challenging pose that can increase your energy level, concentration and balance. It’s named after Lord Shiva and Dance pose yoga helps to remind you about the balance between birth and death so you can reduce foggy thinking and increase your energy flow.

How Do Dancers Pose for Beginners?

Beginners should practice with an instructor or stand near a wall. Then, start bending the right knee while you hold your right ankle with your right hand behind you. Slowly start to bring your right leg up behind you as much as you can but don’t let your right hip turn out. Next, bring your left hand up near your body and with your thumb and index finger, make the Gyan Mudra and keep the eye focused to the left. Hold this for a few breaths. Then let go of your right ankle and let your foot come back down to the mat. Bring your right hand down and relax briefly before attempting the pose again on the other side.

Is Dancer Pose Advanced?

Yes, Dance pose yoga is a challenging and difficult pose because it requires balance and concentration. As it takes mental and physical coordination, give yourself time to correctly achieve the shoulder stretch and backbend. It’s also a chest opening position that becomes easier the more you try it!

Who Should Not Do Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)?

Don’t do Dance pose yoga if you have pain or an injury or recently had surgery. You’ll also want to avoid this asana if you have arthritis, a hernia, disk pain or a hernia. Do not do this pose if you have cervical pain or poor balance.

Is Dancer Pose a Backbend?

Yes, Natarajasana is a backbending pose that can increase your strength, agility and coordination. While it takes time to achieve, be patient with yourself and work with an experienced instructor. Over time you can master this pose and other advanced standing poses!