Natarajasana is a graceful yet demanding asana, and is one of my favourite to practice – I love how each time is a new opportunity to focus on concentration, expansion, lift, and balance.
Learning to root down through your grounded leg while maintaining a neutral pelvis and lifting the leg upwards while arching the back isn’t easy at first. It takes a lot of practice.
There is a certain risk of injury to the knee of the grounded leg and the hip of the lifting leg if this asana is performed improperly.
As a yoga teacher, I always highlight the importance of keeping your knee joint strong yet open by activating your quads and drawing the kneecap up slightly – but not too tight – as well as learning to draw your lifting leg directly back without moving it out to the side at all. This is an important area to keep in mind because it is natural to want to swing the hip out, however slightly, and then move it back as it helps make a backward bend easier, but could easily damage the hip joint and/or ligaments.
There is a great article in the December 2013 issue of Yoga Journal titled ‘Joy to the World’ which talks about Natarajasana and presents four asanas which help open and strengthen the body in preparation for expressing Natarajasana to your body’s fullest capabilities.
The sequence towards Natarajasana shown in the article, with links to Yoga Journal’s informative pose pages, follows:
1. Virabhadrasana I
4. Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana
I look forward to reaching new levels of vibrant energy and open-heartedness in Natarajasana by practicing with this sequence, and I hope you do too!