Today's Daily Tip
If your thighs, knees, and lower back survived the above with ease, enhance the pose by lowering your buttocks to the ground. Fold forward and repeat the whole series of instructions. Next, repeat the sequence with each foot alternately raised on a block; finally try it with both feet on a block and your buttocks on the ground.
A standing pose sequence such as this one develops the mindfulness and resolve that Natarajasana demands. Virabhadrasana III, in particular, requires adductor strength to help you maintain your balance. Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Take your feet 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart, turn your right foot out and your left foot slightly in. Inhale as you raise the arms and exhale into Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). Gaze quietly at your upper hand.
Inhale, bend your right knee, and bring your left foot about a foot closer to your right. Bring your right fingertips to the floor, outside the right foot and underneath your shoulder. Exhaling, straighten the right leg while raising the left leg into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Keep the upper leg strong by pushing steadily through the left heel. Keep the standing leg knee pointing forward. Hold for several breaths.
Then rotate the torso and pelvis down so that they are facing the ground. Stretch both arms straight alongside the ears and breathe steadily. You've arrived in Warrior III. To maintain your balance, draw the kneecap up and press the mound of the big toe down. Feel how the inner leg engages when you do this. Extend thoroughly through your left heel. Gaze at your fingertips to help you stay focused and poised. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Next, rotate the torso to your right as you lower the left fingertips to the floor. Lift your right arm to arrive in Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose). Gaze at the upper hand. Finally, lower the left leg to the floor and come into Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana), placing the left hand to the outside of the right foot. After 5 to 10 breaths, reverse the entire sequence, going back through Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana to Virabhadrasana III, to Ardha Chandrasana and finally Trikonasana. When you're ready, repeat the sequence on the other side.
Then go to a step, or the edge of a sidewalk, or something similar. Place the front half of the foot on the step with the heel suspended off the back. Go through the entire sequence again on each leg. Repeat with the heel supported and the toes suspended. Notice the front and back half of each foot, the inner and outer half, and the front and back quarters of the inner and outer foot. Build up to doing the sequence on every half and quarter of each foot.
Mukta Hasta Sirsasana
Doing a one-legged balancing pose requires structural and neuromuscular balance between each shoulder and its opposite hip. If the lumbar or cervical spine is unstable, and one hip pops up higher than the other, the opposite shoulder becomes strained. Likewise, instability or immobility in the shoulder joint will create strain in the neck and the lower back. By building strong, flexible shoulders, you'll put less strain on the neck and lower back in Natarajasana, which will create greater freedom in the pelvis and trunk. There is no better place to develop such mastery than Sirsasana (Headstand).