Natarajasana~ Dancer Pose
Natarajasana, or Dancer’s Pose, is arguably one of the most beautiful forms in the practice of Hatha Yoga. There is a perfect balance between beauty and strength, balance and trust, extension and commitment, sukham and sthira. There are several different ways to approach Natarajasana, either working on leaning towards a forward bend and straightening the lifted leg, or taking more of a backbend and binding the lifted foot overhead with both hands. Both of these variations are gorgeous, and ironically they work on entirely different areas of stretching and releasing. For years, I only worked on the form with the overhead bind, not having guidance or instruction on working into the other variation. However, in the past couple of months, I have been steadfast in learning to extend and straighten the lifted leg, leaning forward with the torso. I have found that this variation of the asana offers me much needed release in both the hips and the hamstrings, and I am eager to share a few pointers on deepening this variation of Dancer. First, bind the hand to the food or ankle of the lifted leg from the arch side, or the inside edge of the foot. This will allow for greater lift, extension and trajectory. Secondly, if the bind of the hand to the foot or ankle becomes the limiting factor in the pose, and you feel like you can extend the lifted leg even higher, start to walk your grip closer towards the inside edge of your shin bone. This will allow you to lean further forward into the fold and lift higher with the back leg. Lastly, Dancer Pose is very much a practice of balance, and concentration. Focus your drishti (gaze) and let Natarajasana unfold for you!