Natrajasana is an effective pose to build strength and flexibility but it works best to strengthen and align the mind’s focus, finds Mohammad Imran Salat.
I first encountered yoga when I was working in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and there was a yoga studio on the floor below my office. It took me a few years to pursue the subject, but as I started to practise regularly, I decided that I wanted yoga to become my life path and enrolled for a three-year degree course at the Lakulish Yoga University in Ahmedabad.
While I love practising every posture, I find myself drawn to inversions and backbends. Whether it is finding balance in a headstand or arching my spine in urdhva dhanurasana, I find the challenge of backends and inversions exciting and love performing these asanas. On the physical level, they build strength and flexibility and mentally, they make me feel centred and focused. Of all the backbends, the one that brings me most focus is natrajasana. This pose requires the middle back and arms to function properly. I had stiff shoulders when I first started practising so initially, I would use a belt to hold my leg up. But, with regular practice, I now have enough flexibility in my shoulders to perform the pose without props.
I have deconstructed the pose below but do not try this pose if you are a beginner or if you’re trying it for the first time. Natrajasana is an advanced posture and if you’re new to the practice, please try it under the guidance of a qualified teacher. And, never do the pose without warming up first. Start with surya namaskars, standing poses and warm up the back, legs and arms with poses like gomukhasana, eka pāda kapotāsana, purvottanasana, urdhva dhanurasana and setu bandhasana. Natrajasana might look simple but requires a lot of attention to detail so practise under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Backbending for Flexibility and Balance
Stand with your feet together and your spine straight.
Slowly bend your left and raise your left leg while using your left hand to grab the outer edge of your left foot. You left elbow faces the sky. Keep the knee cap of your left leg activated and engage your quadriceps.
Inhale, raise the right arm and grab the left foot. Hold the pose for five breaths and release the leg. Repeat on other side.
Mohammad Imran Salat is a hatha yoga teacher based in Ahmedabad, India. Find his teaching schedules, here.