- On Bikram
- Ardha Chandrasana with pada hastasana, half the moon.
- Utkatasana: waiting in invisible chairs of the awkward, the Bhakti Diaries
- Bravery of Eagle: Garudasana. Bhakti diary
- Dandayamana Janushirasana – the Ego stands naked
- Lords and Dancing, Natarajasana or Dandayamana Dhanurasana.
- Third Warrior, tuladandasana, viribhadrasana III
There are points in the postures that are achingly sweet, that stir us deeply. Places where the physical graces the deep – of Beauty, of Self, of Trust, of Universe. Places in our small lives and little earth and hours and pains and failures that teach us not God, that do not make of us a God, that don’t even prove such a thing as God might exist, but feel exactly like a God would look.
Times when we become the beauty that so inspires us; when we experience ourselves with love and power.
Lord of the dance pose hits us there.
As mindfulness is a way of knowing the depths and the truths and the infinity of things, yoga is that infinity, dancing. What is a dance, why is there dancing anywhere? To dance is to be joy, to be movement, to be emotion, to be human in perfect expression. Patanjali’s description of mindfulness, “Yoga calms the fluctuations of the mind” touches not only on stillness and eternity, on Oneness, but also on dancing. Dancing is the body holding that oneness. Dancing is the way that we live. Dancing is the best expression of all that is rare and still and powerful within us. Yoga is to dance; yoga is to forever dance in minute splinters, to dance as gods would dance, while human.
Natarajasana is a representation of Shiva (Nataraja = Lord of the Dance), that god of the still unity behind things, the witness, the base. I think Shiva is a spine-full god, running cords of nerves, with river fingers and a mountain back. Moony toes and sun for mouth. Shiva rules over transformation, what is, the as-it-is ness of our living. Contemplation of him, or dancing his dance, or a rogue bliss, is to taste a little of the more than evident; to know both the ephemeral, materially evident world and the shadowy, shimmery thing that is in it and behind it. To taste the salt-bitter, sweat sweet, non-duality that is so rich we just can’t take it. Shiva is dancing. Shiva is the dance.
In the beginning, when we try, we can see the beauty and are left with a weird feeling of aftershock: I am that beautiful. To experience ourselves this way is profoundly counter-cultural, sublime, more than a little weird. But it is why we love this pose, why people get an extra breath to try this one, why it is this one that we want and not others. I, myself, am beautiful. I, myself, can dance.
That’s it, in the beginning. A vague little tug that is pride, but not really. In the beginning, we see the physicality of the pose, the difficulty of balance, the arc of the spine, the length of arm. The challenge of kick. And kick more. And kick. Learning standing bow pulling requires determination, patience, resolve. Beauty inspires commitment. I’d bet it’s dancer pose that keeps many of us coming back. It’s dancer pose people strike up in their bedrooms, on subway platforms, on beaches or mountains. Commitment resolves to more beauty. We learn resolve. We test boundaries. We overstep our limited selves and be more. We commit, hold centered and true to something called ‘true nature’, and we keep on with the dance.
Eventually, we start to sense the eternal and non-physical in what looks like a temporal, purely physical pose. Eventually, we touch it. We do it effortlessly. It happens us (that’s not mistaken grammar: I mean it happens us. It causes us to happen. Not happens to us. But happens us). We kiss Shiva. Shiva kisses us. We know that weird place of entering and leaving, being and not being, time and not time. My god, we are stunning. Existence is heavy divine. As Iyengar says, your body becomes a temple, this asana becomes a prayer.
What would god mouth taste like? Like, in the really really honest way of telling, change. Tides swelling and falling. Clouds pulling. Deep garnets churning in middle earth. Like time. Like the mere flesh stirred into a moving, breathy thing. Mistakes becoming blessings. Weaknesses strength. God is the taste of grief becoming song, our poison to medicine, our names to traces and fingerprints left in good things, earthwide, and the hearts of our children. This is why yoga works. We don’t necessarily understand time, or change, or transformation. We don’t talk about it. We don’t shape it. We practice it.
Creation is not a stillness. Creation is not dead earth. Creation is transforming; subtle movements; time in spite of everything else. If we truly face reverence and awe, it comes in knowing not an absolute or eternal or heavy thing, but the lightness of all things, the blowing of sand, the beauty that comes and passes like breath over the lips.
In studying the emotional and energetic benefits of dancer pose, I found this: releases shame and abandonment; resolves issues of self-worth, fears of betrayal; develops determination, patience. Of course it does. It is a pose of awe, and personal strength. It’s where we learn. What we learn, if we ever learn anything, is how little there is to fear, how impossible it is to make a mistake, how love is not a found thing, but a done thing, a dance radiating from the heart center, so big it breaks through the boundaries of the chest. Dancer pose is therapy, raw. We learn to let go, of shame, of fear, of self-hate and smallness. We hear the gods asking us, if gods ask, to join them in dance.
Please Help Me Get To Teacher Training – I need help, big or little, by APRIL!…
Physical Benefits of Dandayamana Dhanurasana/ Natarajasana
The Physical Anatomy
- Contraction of quadriceps and Gulteus Maximus
- Extension of shoulders -Trapezius / Latisimus Dorsi, groin – sartorius/hamstrings, and chest – pectorals, diaphram, ribcage
- Compression of the kidneys and spine
- Stimulates the circulatory system, digestive system, reproductive system, endocrine system, urinary system, and the heart
- Transferring blood flow from one side of the body to the other creates an irrigation of the entire circulatory system, clearing plaque off the artery walls and stimulating circulation throughout the body
- Compression of the spine simultaneously eases back pain and improves the elasticity of the thing.
- Tones hips and buttocks, trims and strengthens the thighs, strengthens the ankles and knees (especially the tendons), opens the shoulder joints, helps with ‘frozen shoulder’
- Helps alleviate carpal tunnel, arthritis, tennis elbow
- Helps with cervical spondylosis
- Good for prenatal recovery
- Stretches diaphragm and ribcage improving respiration (breathing)
- Flushes kidneys, bladder and urinary system, alleviating gas, constipation, generally clearing the digestion
- Improves balance and reflexes
- Heart opening, chest expanding, and all the good things that come of that.