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lord of dance
Natarajasana, Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana in Bharatanatyam classical Indian dance

Natarajasana (Sanskrit: नटराजासन; IAST: Naṭarājāsana) or Lord of the Dance Pose[1] is a standing, back-bending asana.[2]

Etymology and origins[edit]

The name comes from the Sanskrit words नट nata meaning "dancer", राज raja meaning "king",[3] and आसन asana meaning "posture" or "seat".[4] Nataraja is one of the names given to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.

The pose is depicted in 13th - 18th century Bharatnatyam dance statues of the Eastern Gopuram, Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram; some 20 different asanas are depicted, implying according to Ananda Bhavanani both an early origin for these poses and a cultural interchange between medieval hatha yoga and dance.[5]

Elliott Goldberg, on the other hand, observes that Natarajasana is not found in any medieval hatha yoga text, nor are they mentioned by any pre-20th century traveller to India, or found in artistic depictions of yoga such as the Sritattvanidhi or the Mahamandir near Jodhpur. Goldberg argues that the pose, like several others, was introduced into modern yoga by Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century, and taken up by his pupils such as B. K. S. Iyengar, who made the pose a signature of modern yoga; it seems that Iyengar transmitted the pose also to Sivananda, as Iyengar sent him a complete photo album showing Iyengar in all his asanas.[6]


This aesthetic, stretching and balancing asana develops concentration and grace;[7] it is used in the Indian classical dance form Bharatanatyam.[5]

To get into this position, stand in 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.[8]

The actor Mariel Hemingway describes Natarajasana as "a beautiful pose with tremendous power", comparing the balance and tension in the arms and legs with an archery bow, and calling it "a very difficult pose to hold."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Yoga Journal - Lord of the Dance Pose". Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gerstein, Nancy (2008). Guiding Yoga's Light: Lessons for Yoga Teachers. Human Kinetics. pp. 118–. ISBN 978-0-7360-7428-5.
  4. ^ Sinha, S. C. (1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9.
  5. ^ a b Bhavanani, Ananda Balayogi; Bhavanani, Devasena (2001). "BHARATANATYAM AND YOGA". Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. He also points out that these [Bharatanatyam dance] stances are very similar to Yoga Asanas, and in the Gopuram walls at Chidambaram, at least twenty different classical Yoga Asanas are depicted by the dancers, including Dhanurasana, Chakrasana, Vrikshasana, Natarajasana, Trivikramasana, Ananda Tandavasana, Padmasana, Siddhasana, Kaka Asana, Vrishchikasana and others.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Elliott (2016). The Path of Modern Yoga : the history of an embodied spiritual practice. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions. pp. 223, 395–398. ISBN 978-1-62055-567-5. OCLC 926062252.
  7. ^ Ramaswami, Srivatsa (2001). Yoga for the three stages of life: developing your practice as an art form, a physical therapy, and a guiding philosophy. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-89281-820-4.
  8. ^ StPierre, Amber. "Troubleshooting King Dancer Pose". DoYouYoga. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  9. ^ Hemingway, Mariel (2004) [2002]. Finding My Balance: A Memoir with Yoga. Simon & Schuster. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0743264327.

Further reading[edit]