Natarajasana or Lord of the Dance Pose : a marriage of strength, flexibility, balance & meditation.
Backbending postures were initially soooo unnatural for me. BUT through proper preparation, patience(!), & most importantly, PRACTICE, I’ve fallen head-over-tea kettle IN LOVE with them. Even though we’ve all gone through a broken, vulnerable heart before, forever choose to crack it wide open AGAIN by exposing it more, giving it more, & ultimately receiving more! Through this beautiful asana, enjoy this feeling of euphoria every.single.time. & A G A I N. Why? Because in the end, there’s only love… & by placing the spine in extension vs. it’s normal flexion state is beyond liberating + healthy for our body’s longevity, & most importantly, our heart’s.
A proper warm up is crucial. Put your body through a full range of motion with an emphasis on stretches/postures that strengthen & stretch the quadriceps, hip flexors, shoulders, pectorals, chest & upper back. From here, you’ll be ready to begin. In this particular variation, I’m drawing my right shoulder back, kicking my ankle into my left hand (which requires adequate length in both my quad & hip flexor), & bending through the thoracic spine… all the while maintaing a bright opening through my heart. If & when;) you fall out of this pose, because you will…. we all do, smile & choose to begin again.
Bring your focus/gaze on something that isn’t moving, also known as your drishti. Breathe deeply in & out of your nose for 5-10 breaths. Use the inhales to ground into your standing leg, find stability & create space. Use the exhales to move into that space by kicking your foot/ankle into your hand while reaching forward + up with your opposite hand opening through the front side of your body. It may help to place your gaze on the hand which extends forward, perhaps creating a mudra as I’ve done in this photo. Using your hands (which are an extension of your heart) as a vessel for wisdom, assist with adequate concentration & presence.
Ensure your hips remain square with your belly button pointing towards the matt. While doing so, lift your upper body into a bow like extension. Soften your forehead, space between your eyes & your jaw. Keep drawing your shoulders away from your ears.
In the full variation of this posture, both hands will reach up & overhead to grab your foot or ankle.
Never forget the joy of the journey & the practice of acceptance. Yoga is a system… a practice… one which, I hope, will encourage you to return to the matt over & over again for the rest of your physical life. If you get into the full variation one day, beautiful! If not, beautiful! Neither makes us any better of a person;) So, meet yourself where you’re at & continually seek what feels good for you.