Supportive Yoga Pose of the Month: May 2014

Supportive Yoga Pose of the Month: May 2014

Hi everyone!  Sorry this post is a little late – we’re well into May right now.  Things have started to pick up here and I’m starting to get some teaching gigs, so it’s all good news!  Also, I was so happy to finally get to meet and hang out with Amber Karnes, who is the awesome yogi behind Body Positive Yoga, so it’s been a busy, but super awesome week.  Anyways, without further ado, <drum roll please>, here is the May Supportive Yoga pose of the month!

Natarjasana! (dancing Siva pose)

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I taught my first group class in NYC the other day (intermediate/advanced at Mala Yoga) and this pose was featured in my sequence because 1. it’s fun an 2. I’ve been thinking about Siva lately, particularly about how his role as the destroyer is such an important part of the cycle of creation.  I’ve been in Brooklyn for a little over a month now and am still adjusting to my new life, which, of course, wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t totally uprooted the comfortable, good life I had in DC.  Sometimes you have to destroy things to create new things, right?  Ok – onto the pose itself!

Natarajasana is a challenging balance pose and a deep asymmetrical back bend so you probably want to be warmed up before you do this one.  Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) and start to shift your weight into one leg.  Try not to lock your knee.  Lift your other leg off the floor and bend your knee like you want to kick your own butt.  Reach back and hold onto your foot or your ankle with the same hand (so if your right leg is up, grab with your right hand.)  Once you’ve got your foot, lift your opposite arm straight up towards the ceiling.

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If your foot seems impossibly far away, grab a strap and make a loop.  Place the loop around your foot, hold onto the strap and then, tada!, problem solved.  I use the belt for the second arm variation later in the post if you need a visual of where it’s supposed to be.

Start to lean forward while pressing your foot into your hand and your hand into your foot.  Make sure you aren’t locking the standing knee.  You will wobble – it’s good for you.  Try to keep your hips square (I’m only sort of succeeding at that in the second photo below.)

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You can also try natarajasana with an overhead hold (similar to eka pada rajakapotasana – king pigeon).  There was a time when I could attempt this without a belt but not anymore.  Still, this is an awesome shoulder and tricep stretch in addition to the backbend, and it looks cool, so I say go for it.  Loop the belt around your foot and then reach back and grab it like you were a waitress holding a tray of drinks.  Once you have the belt, flip your elbow up to the sky.  You are reaching over your head now for your foot with the aid of the belt.  You can stick with a one hand hold or raise your other hand up to get the belt as well.  Once again, press your foot into the belt and then then play with a deeper back bend, still trying to keep your hips square.  If you want, you can try to look up as well.

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As always, I’d love to see your natarajasanas!  Please play along by posting a photo of yourself on your favorite social media outlet with the hashtag #supportiveyoga.  Happy practicing!

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