Natarajasana

Natarajasana – Lord of the Dance pose or Dancer’s pose. Nata= Dancer. Raja = King / Lord. 
Nataraja is another name of Lord Shiva, who is also known as the “Lord of the dance”. His dance symbolizes cosmic energy in its “five actions:” creation, maintenance, and destruction or re-absorption of the world, concealment of authentic being, and grace. It is said that when Nataraj’s cosmic dance begins it brings blessings in the form of destruction for rebirth, which is an essential part of life’s cycle.

 This pose exudes elegance and grace. I’ve always thought that this pose are usually performed by Ballerinas on stage. Never knew that it is one of the Balancing Asana. The first time i tried this pose was 1 week prior to the Teacher’s Training Exam. I felt like my hamstrings were splitted into many halves.

Before getting into the pose, we did a bit of warm up. We did 20 times of alternate leg switches while in lunge position. It got our heart rate up. We did a few preparatory poses to help open up our hips, thighs and chest. Preparatory Pose Illustration:-
From Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog), bring your right leg forward and angle  the right shin such that the outside is resting on the mat it forms a ninety degree with your knee. Keep your hips square and left leg should be extended straight out from the hips.. Sink down as much as possible. This is a great hip opener. After you steadied in the pose, lift up your left leg from the knee and wrap your left hand on your ankle. Keeping hips squared, lengthen your spine and bend backwards. Now you’ll feel your chest opening, spine extending and hips opening.
Struggles – Keeping hips square and sinking as low as possible so that the stretch is deepened. When left leg is lifted from the knee, alignment is out. Bending backwards might compress the lumbar if awareness is not in opening the thoracic region and chest. Getting out of the pose is like releasing all the strain from your hamstrings and deep muscles.
Repeat on the other side.

Illustration to get into Natarajasana
From Tandasana, shift your weight onto your right leg. Lift your left heel towards your butt with your left knees bent. (Standing right leg has to stay straight and strong. Square your hips to the front). Keeping chest straight, shoulders retracted, sweep your left hand around behind your back and catch hold of the left foot. (Avoid compression on lumbar by actively tucking your tailbone under). Lift your left foot up, away from the ground,  away from your back. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward. Hold in the pose and repeat on the other side.
Struggles – Staying strong on the standing leg and keeping the balance with body squared to the front while pulling the lifted leg away from the body. Alignment tends to shift towards the side of the lifted leg.

End result .
An elegant and graceful dancer who makes it all seemed effortless. This pose stretches your shoulders and opens your chest. It opens up your hips, stretches your thighs and strengthens your legs. It helps to improve your balance.
It is no wonder that the chinese said that 1 min’s glory on stage equates to a lifetime’s practice.