Natarajasana - The King of Dance
Nataraja (Naṭarāja). राज Rāja, from rājan king, chief, god. नट Naṭa dancer, actor, commedian.
Epith. of Siva under his cosmical aspect of "Kind of Dance", dancing in the posture of nadantatandava, after the submission of the heretic sages (rsi) of the Taragam forest; Upon the prayer of the dragon (nāga) Ananta, this dance was played again in front of the gods at Cidambaram, in Tamil Nadu.
The initial position consists in holding the left foot with the left hand and in raising the foot backward as high as possible. The other arm is stretched horizontally, the index stretched wit the gaze fixing straight in its direction. The body should not lean too much forward and should remain as straight as possible.
Once in the position, the focus in on experiencing the stretch, the majesty of the position and its vibration in the whole body. The energetic focus is on the heart center, while maintaining the general balance.
The posture does not call for arithmetic breathing control. It is suggested to move towards the energetic breathing, subtle and almost silent. The position is held as long as possible, aiming at four minutes.
This position relates to Brahma, the creating aspect of the universe. It is also in immobility that the strongest forces are created.
Contrarily to the previous posture, this one requires a crossing of hand and foot. In the illustration, the left foot and the right hand are crossed while the knees are kept well aligned. This is done by making a hollow back while pulling the foot backward with the hand. Next, the index of the left hand is straightened about 30 cm. in front of the eyes so that the gaze fix the tip of the index.
The final position should generate a relaxed, esthetic and inspired feeling. In this starting position, the stability must be insured and the focus remains on the heart center while maintaining the balance. The breathing progressively slows down to become almost silent and generates little amount of air. If the position is stable, it is then possible to engage in a minute movement consisting in raising the index and the gaze.
The movement must be so slow and so progressive that it should be almost transparent to an observer. This observer would only see a motionless posture. This indicates the difficulty of the practice.
At the end, the index must be very high, and the gaze completely in line with it.
This posture relates to Nataraja, the cosmic dancer who represents one of the aspects of Shiva. It symbolizes the ceaseless activity that creates and destroys at every moment all manifestations of the universe. Nataraja dances throughout this ceaseless phenomenal activity, in the infinitely great, through the major cycles of nature and of the plants, as well as through the microcosm, within the stupendous activities of electrons and particles. In the image of this posture, while this dance manifests itself at every moment, the dancer remains invisible and the world appears remain identical to itself.