Twelve Days of Yoga: On the 9th Day

“On the 9th day of yoga, my guru gave to me…

9 dancing yogis
8 chaturangas
7 chakras tuning
6 heavy breathers
5 minute peace

4 flying crows
3 om’ing om oms
2 turtle poses
and a Hanuman in a coconut tree.

Ahhh one of my favorite yoga poses is natarajasana, or king dancer’s pose.  The sanskrit word “nata” means dancer and “raja” means king.  The full sanskrit “nataraja” is another name for the Hindu deity Shiva, who is represented in form as a cosmic dancer:

This dance symbolizes the dynamic forces of creation and destruction and the harmonious balance

of opposites.  Shiva is depicted with four arms.  Each represent the cardinal directions of space.  He holds a drum in one hand that represents the sound of creation while another hand is in abhaya mudra, the “fear not” hand gesture.  The other hand holds a flame that represents the essence of creation and destruction.  Finally the 4th hand is a gesture towards the lifted foot that symbolizes the release from the cycles of death and rebirth.  He is dancing on a dwarf, Apasmara which symbolizes human ignorance or forgetfulness.  He stands firm on the dwarf showing the end of ignorance and the birth of knowledge.  Shiva dances in a ring, prahabhamandala that symbolizes the source of all movement within the cosmos.  The outer edge of the ring are fiery flames that represent the universe’s illusion, suffering and pain, the inner edge is of the waters of the oceans.

 

natarajasana -- king dancers pose

To me, the full yoga pose feels like the king of all backbends.  It requires strength, balance, and flexibility all at the same time.

As I lift my leg up, I look within for faith that I am strong enough.

As I rotate my arm upward, I am ready to create… to create this dance between breath and body… body and mind… mind and spirit.

As I reach back with my other hand and grab my foot, I let go of all illusion… the doubts in my head… those voices that say, “no you can’t!”

Finally, as I lift my gaze and drop my head back, I whisper to myself , “fear not…”

and then I open my heart

I stand firm and fierce,

but soft and open.

I dance.

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