Dancer I
NATARĀJĀSANA (नटराजासन)
(not-ah-raj-AHH-sah-nah)

 


‘Nata’= dancer or actor, ‘rāja’= lord or king, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Dancer’s Pose

Lord of the Dance
King of the Dance
Standing Half Bow Pose (Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana)

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pose Type: Standing / Back-Bend / Stretch / Balance / Strength

1. Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your legs slightly apart (about hip distance), keeping your back straight, shoulders and arms down, and palms facing forward.
2. Shift your weight to the left leg, being sure not to lock your knee. Spread your toes and root your foot into the mat.
3. Bend the right leg back toward the buttock and hold the inside of your ankle with your right hand. Make sure that your hips are squared forward and reach your left arm forward.
4. With the right knee bent, slowly draw the right leg up and back while holding the ankle. Extend the chest forward, bending at the hips, while arching the spine back.
5. Use your core for balance, and work to get the abdomen and the back-right thigh parallel to the ground. However, only go as high as is comfortable.
6. Keeping your gaze forward, your shoulders down, and your neck soft and relaxed, make sure that your left arm (which is reaching forward), is parallel to the ground with your hand either straight out, or in Guyan Mudra. If the elbow is slightly bent, that is okay.
7. Your left leg and arm should create an ‘L’ shape while your right foot and leg, up through your back, and to the crown of your head, should be arched in a ‘U’ shape. Be sure not to over arch your lower back.
8. Focus on pushing through your left leg and foot to root and ground yourself to the mat. Engage your quadriceps and the muscles around your knee for balance, along with your core muscles.
9. Stretch through your right quadriceps and hamstrings and up through the right foot and toes, as well as through your abdomen and chest, up through to the crown of your head.
10. Hold this posture for several breaths (about 20 seconds) and then slowly release. Repeat on other side.

Common Adjustments
• Looking down
• Moving too fast
• Lower back compressed or spine not aligned
• Unbalanced
• Standing foot lifting off the ground
• Strained neck
• Shoulders hunched or strained up toward the ears
• Chest closed
• Chest falling forward
• Bent knee out to the side
• Knee locked
• Knee and toes not lined up
• Hips not squared forward

Modifications
• Students who cannot raise their leg high, can use a strap around their ankle or the top of their foot to lift the leg up towards them.
• Students with vertigo should not look up - have them gaze down instead. If needed, they can practice next to a wall or chair for balance.
• To get deeper into the pose, and help with balance, students can either practice together or by a wall or a chair so they can rest their hand(s) on them. Alternatively, they can either place their shin that is bent against the wall to get a better grip on the ankle, or they can place their chest against the wall for balance.
• Advanced students can challenge themselves by using the opposite hand to grab the opposite heel. So, while balancing on the left leg, grab the bent right leg’s heel with the left hand. Alternatively, they can also challenge themselves by doing King Dancer Pose (Baddha Natarajasana) by bringing both hands overhead and grabbing hold of the lifted foot. Frame the ears with the biceps, so that the elbows are out, keeping the shoulders down.

Counter Poses
• Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana)
• Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing Big Toe (Padangusthasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Shoulders (Deltoid)
• Biceps and Triceps• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic) and Lower (Lumbar) back and Spine• Hips (Iliopsoas and Psoas Major and Minor)
• Gluteus Maximums and Medius• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Knees and Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the neck, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, abdomen, entire back, spine, hips, groin, psoas, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, knees, ankles, and feet. This helps with flexibility and joint pain.
• Improves balance and helps to develop poise, concentration, focus and improves memory. Relieves stress, anxiety, and mild depression by energizing the mind.
• Improves posture and alignment and can help with a hunched back.
• Opens the chest and shoulders, which assists the respiratory system and is therapeutic for students with asthma. Also activates the thyroid gland (especially in the advanced version of this posture).
• Massages the abdominal muscles, which improve digestion and soothes menstrual discomfort.

Contraindications
1. Students who are injured, suffering from a slipped disc, have high / low blood pressure, or have carpal tunnel syndrome, should avoid this pose.
2. Students need flexibility and strong legs and back to properly balance in this pose.
3. Students new to this pose should practice with guidance.
4. Students with vertigo should use a modification.
5. Students with a back and /or knee injury should avoid this pose or practice a variation with guidance.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 7 – Standing Postures as “Natarajasana – King Dancer”.
    • Watch the Chapter 7 video “Natarajasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – STANDING POSES as “NATARAJASANA – King of the Dancers Pose”.

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