Lord of the Dance Pose

Want to, like, connect with cosmic energy? Nataraja is another name for Shiva and his dance symbolizes cosmic energy. Natarajasana, or Lord of the Dance Pose.
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How to say Natarajasana in Sanskirt

(not-ah-raj-AHS-anna)

nata = actor, dancer, mime

raja = king

Lord of the Dance Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty

  1. Begin in Tadasana, facing the front of the mat and noticing the symmetry of the pelvis and the torso
  2. Root down through the big toe mounds while lifting the inner arches
  3. Spin the inner thighs back while releasing the flesh of the buttocks down
  4. Draw the sternum away from the navel while softening the front ribs
  5. Bend the right knee and reach back with the right hand to clasp the ankle from the inside out, so that the finger tips point to the right and the shoulder is in external rotation
  6. Pause and observe which of the elements from Tadasana have been lost
  7. Typically, the weight has fallen to the outer left foot, the left outer hip has protruded, the front ribs have flared and the pelvis is no longer square to the front of the mat
  8. To correct, root down with the left big toe mound, firm the left outer hip into the midline and roll the right side of the pelvis and ribs forward, directing the lower front ribs towards the frontal hipbones
  9. Maintaining these actions, start to press the right thigh back and up, leading with the inner thigh so that the thigh remains neutral; press into the right big toe mound to reinforce this work
  10. Simultaneously reach the left arm forward and up, leading with the inner upper arm and engaging the outer upper arm so that the shoulder is in external rotation
  11. Keep extending the sternum away from the navel to maintain the lift of the chest while extending back and up with the right thigh
  12. Pin the right knee into the midline to keep the leg neutral and press back with the right foot to open the front of the right shoulder, all the while continuing to roll the right ribs forward
  13. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then release back to Tadasana and take the other side

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Lord of the Dance Pose Cues

Cautions and Contraindications of Lord of the Dance Pose 

  • Avoid or modify if you have a hip replacement or hip pain in the pose
  • Avoid or modify if you have hip pain, hip arthritis, or a hip replacement
  • Avoid or modify if you have a hamstring or groin tear or injury.
  • Avoid or modify if you have acute back pain or injuries, including surgeries, arthritis, disc bulging or herniation, or SI (sacroiliac) pain
  • Avoid or modify if you have a hernia
  • Avoid or modify if you have shoulder injuries or pain in the pose

Be cautious to prevent falls if you have poor balance. Consider pose variations using a chair or the wall for stability.

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Benefits of Lord of the Dance Pose

  • Improves balance
  • Improves postural awareness
  • Improve body awareness
  • Can boost energy and fight fatigue
  • Can help build confidence and empowerment
  • Improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting and computer work
  • Strengthens your core and back muscles
  • Stretches your chest and shoulders
  • Standing Leg: strengthens the front of your hips (hip flexors), your thighs (while also stretching the back of your thighs/hamstrings), shins, and ankles
  • Lifted Leg: Strengthens your gluteals and back of thigh (hamstrings). Stretches the front of your hip (hip flexors), front on your thigh (quadriceps), and ankle 

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3 Ways to Modify Lord of the Dance Pose

1. Dancer Holding onto the chair

Use a chair for extra balance and stability

2. Dancer with Strap

You can use a strap to extend your reach in the arm position of the primary pose pictured above, or you can reach your arms up over (flexing your shoulders) and use the strap to extend your reach.

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3. Quadriceps Stretch at the Wall

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Hold onto the wall and grab one foot, with the knee facing downward to target stretching he front of your thigh (quadriceps).

If you cannot reach your foot, use a strap to extend your reach

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Preparatory Poses for Lord of the Dance Pose

Follow-up Poses after Lord of the Dance Pose

Natarajasana is usually performed as the final pose of a series of challenging backbends. You'll probably want to release the spine by coming to Ardha Uttanasana (Half Uttanasana), also known as Right Angle Pose, at the wall or reclining twist.

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More Pose Detail

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