Once you are steady, raise the left leg back and turn the left palm out. Bend the elbow, reach back, and hold the left foot with the left hand. If that is too difficult, loop a belt around the foot and work with that. Continue to raise the left foot back (pulling on the belt if necessary) until the thigh is parallel to the ground. Alleviate any tightness in the leg by drawing the outer ankle in, toward the shin—an action very similar to lifting the instep when you're standing.
When you feel steady, keep holding your left foot as you externally rotate your shoulder so the elbow points up. Lift the front of your pelvis toward your diaphragm and drop your tailbone toward the floor to lengthen your lower back. Rotate the left thigh in, and level the top rim of your pelvis. When you feel steady, reach your right arm up overhead and hold on to your left foot. Keep the chest lifted and stretch out through your shoulders. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping the lifted leg active and extending it back.
This is Natarajasana. It will help you find the eternal and nonphysical within the seemingly limited and physical, therefore immediately negating what at first seemed physical and limited. You've built the temple and recited the prayer. Having learned that, release and repeat the pose on the other side.
Kofi Busia is a devoted student of B.K.S. Iyengar and has been teaching yoga for 33 years.
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