The name comes from the Sanskrit words nata meaning "dancer", raja meaning "king", and asana (आसन) meaning "posture" or "seat". Nataraja is one of the names given to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.
This is a balance asana that strengthens the legs. It also is a full body stretch which engages the shoulders, chest and abdomen, strengthens the thigh and calf muscles, knees and ankles, hips and spine, and develops concentration and grace.
This aesthetic, stretching and balancing asana is used in Indian classical dances.
To get into this position, start in mountain pose or tadasana. Bend your left knee so your knee points down towards the ground and your heal moves toward your seat. Grab the inside of your left foot with your left palm. Spread your left toes, and kick your palm, moving your foot into the air faster than your chest moves forward. Broaden your collar bones. To move into the full variation of this pose, extend the right arm behind you and reach for the left foot. This may be more accessible with a yoga strap. .
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