Natarajasana derives its name from the root words "nata", meaning actor or dancer, and "raja", meaning king. It is also known as the Lord of the Dance Pose, and it is meant to express the Hindu Deity Shiva, who is also known as the cosmic dancer. The dance of Shiva is meant to express cosmic energy in what are his five expressions of his powers: creation, preservation, destruction (or the re-absorption of the world), concealer of authentic being, and blessed revealer. As a standing pose, Natarajasana expresses the gracefulness of that dance most elegantly.
There are many great benefits that one receives from Royal Dancer, and like many of the complex moves, these benefits affect many areas of the body at the same time.
Entering the movement directly through Tadasana (Mountain Pose), the practitioner will stretch the shoulders, chest, thighs, groin and abdomen while strengthening the legs and ankles. Natajarasana also helps lungs, Kidneys and spine while improving balance.
Royal Dancer is the the last of several challenging back bend poses and can be preceeded by many different preparatory poses. They include Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand),Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged King Pigeon Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose), Supta Virasana(Reclining Hero Pose), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose), Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose), Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose), Virasana (Hero Pose), and Vrksasana(Tree Pose). Natarajasana is a fantastic final expression in any practice that includes other backbend poses.
Some practitioners prefer to practice this pose with a partner who can help them balance. If practicing alone, others might want to use one hand outstretched and pressed against a wall for stability while attempting to balance.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is the first of four King pigeon poses, and is considered a movement of grace and beauty. In its simplest form, One Legged King Pigeon (Pigeon I) is accessible to beginners with experience, but as one begins to practice more difficult variations it is considered an intermediate and advanced pose. Eka Pada is considered a good first pose for the other three King Pigeon poses, and is usually integrated into more advanced practices. For example, One Legged Pigeon is considered an important precursor to Kapotasana for opening the body up for that final expression.
There are many areas of the body that One Legged King Pigeon helps the practitioner focus on, and they include stretching the thighs, hips and groin. The pose also stretches the abdomen, thereby stimulating the abdominal organs, while stretching and opening the chest, shoulders and neck. This last area opens up the heart center and helps one facilitate deeper breathing.
There are many poses that the practitioner may prepare for One legged Pigeon with, and they include Baddha Konasana (Bound Ankle Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Ankle Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose), Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Virasana(Hero Pose), and Vriksasana (Tree Pose).
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana can be very difficult, especially if one has had previous injuries, and great care should be taken to know the limits of one's own body. People with tight hips or thighs, knee injuries, ankle injuries or sacrioliac injuries should practice great caution in relation to Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, and should avoid this asana. If the practioner is having a hard time allowing the outside front leg hip to touch the ground, one may also find the need to support the outside hip with a cushion or folded blanket.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana can be found on our Advanced DVD here: The Goddess Series : Advanced.
adottanasana, or "Wide Legged Forward Bend", is a Great pose for Sattva - "purity", literally "existence, reality" in Sanskrit. Known for soothing the heart and mind while developing rootedness and balance, the anatomical focus of this pose includes the brain, liver, kidneys, spine, hamstrings, calves, hips, groin area, and knees.
The benefits of this pose are multi-fold, as it strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine while toning the abdominal organs. It also calms the brain and allows for a positive meditative state while holding the pose for 1 minute to 90 seconds.
This position is usually done toward the end of a series of standing poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana ( Downward Facing Dog Pose) or Uttanasana ( Intense Forward Bending Pose), and can be entered directly through Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
There are many good follow-up poses for this Prasarita Padottanasana, including Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Bakasana (Crane Pose) , Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) ,Sirsasana (Head Stand) or Utthita Parsvakonasana or (Extended Side Angle Pose).
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