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Posture of the Month: Natarajasana (April 2016)

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Welcome to Sweaty Ganesh Yoga's April posture of the month: Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance pose)!

This comes from the Sanskrit words nata (dancer), raja (king) and asana (posture). Nataraja is one of the names given to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.

Natarajasana requires both grace, as if dancing, and a firm, focused attention. It is a challenging pose for many practitioners, but there are several ways to both prepare for and modify the pose to make it a regular part of your practice.

We get our bodies ready for this pose with chest openers, shoulder stretches, thigh and hip flexor stretches and mild backbends. Natarajasana requires some bending in the lumbar spine (lower back), but as with all backbends, it is good to focus on bending in our thoracic spine (middle back). If you feel discomfort, an excellent modification is to use a strap looped around your back foot–you’ll likely find that your dancer pose feels more stable and comfortable. If stability eludes you, don’t hesitate to use a wall for support.

Pose type:
balance; backbend; standing; chest opener

Benefits:
• Develops concentration and balance
• Tones and stretches the leg and hip muscles
• Stretches the hip flexors, chest, shoulders, groins and abdomen
• Strengthens the ankles and the arch in the standing foot
• Strengthens the back body in a back bend
• Develops range of motion in the shoulders
• Helps to center mind and body.

Prepartory poses: tree pose; bow pose; cow-face pose; monkey pose (splits);
reclined hand to foot pose; camel pose; bow pose; forward fold; warrior 3; warrior 1;
hero pose; handstands

Follow-up poses: downward facing dog; half forward fold (this pose helps release
the strain on the spine); spinal twists

Cautions:
• Avoid locking the knee of the standing leg. Keep a micro-bend in the knee to avoid this.
• If you get cramps in back of the thigh, keep your ankle and foot flexed, keeping the bent leg active.
• If you have shoulder injuries, take this pose slowly and honor your body.

Modifications:
• If you can’t grab hold of your back foot, use a strap around your foot and hold the strap instead
• If you are struggling with balance, use a wall for balance
• If leaning forward is too difficult, only come part way forward into the pose.

As with all postures, I encourage you to listen to your body and honor where you are mentally, physically and emotionally each day. The pose will be there again tomorrow... practice in such a way that you can be too!

Warmly,
Hollye and the SGY Teaching Team




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