So I’m heading down to Connecticut today to visit my Aunt and cousins. My cousin Heidi and my Aunt Linda have been running very successful dance studio in Connecticut called Ballet Ecole for many years, and have recently opened a new studio named “Pirouette, Pilates and More“. Both are classically trained and unbelievable dancers who inspired my love for dance. They also both love yoga!
So in honor of them, this week my pose will be…
Dancer’s Pose or Natarajasana
Nata is the Sanskrit word for “Dance”, while Raja means “king”…so the pose actually means “Lord of the Dance” and sometimes attributed to the Hindu god Shiva.
Lord Shiva is one of the primary Hindu Gods. He is depicted in many manifestations, including Shiva “The Destroyer” or as the “internal dancer”. Depending on the day, or what my mood is, sometimes I call upon different visualizations of his character to help me reach he pose’s fullest expression. For instance, if I am coming up against some major obstacles in my life or day, I will visualize my self as the “destroyer” in this pose. Full of power, my body becomes my own bow and arrow and I am ready to take on the world!
The thing I love about this pose is that it literally activates, utilizes and strengthens your ENTIRE BODY. From your ankles, thighs, hips, biceps, shoulders, triceps, lower back…everything benefits. The places I usually feel it most are my thighs, lower back biceps, shoulders, and a deep stretch in my hips.
The pose has also helped me recover from a sever sprained ankle. The ankles are strengthened and challenged to support your entire body in this pose in an awkward way.
Internally, your lungs expand, your kidneys are massaged for better functioning, your spine is challenged in flexibility and your abdomen is activated. Obviously this pose helps strengthen your ability to balance and focus.
In Ashtanga yoga, which is the main type of yoga I practice. Using a mudra in the extended forward hand helps this focus.
This pose is a wonderful ‘heart opener’, to the point that once you relax into your fullest expression, you really feel like a free warrior spirit release in you…almost like you are invincible. You really dance in this pose!
To practice Natarajasana
- Stand in Mountain Pose.
- Inhale and shift your weight onto your right foot firmly, and lift your left heel backwards to your left buttock as you bend the knee, press your thigh bone back and pull the knee cap up to keep the standing leg straight and strong .
- with your left hand- grasp the outside of your left foot or ankle. Lift your pubis towards your navel, and press your tailbone towards the floor.
- Begin lifting your left foot up, away from the floor, and back, away from your torso. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward, in front of your torso, parallel to the floor, while pressing the thumb and index finger together.
- Press your shin towards the back wall using thigh strength to elevate your trunk upward. Engage your core to protect your back.
- Focus on a spot far in the distance and engage ocean breathe.
- Remain in this posture for about 5-10 breathes.
- Release, sweeping the forward arm up and back and repeating on the other side. Perform each side twice.
- Remember to always practice this new poses for the first time in the presence of a seasoned yoga teacher!