The Symbolic Story Behind the Origins of Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

Introduction to Natarajasana

Natarajasana, also known as Dancer Pose or King Dancer, is a beautiful yoga pose that not only shapes the body but also enhances balance and concentration. The pose pays homage to the Lord of the Dance, Nataraja. While the physical form may not precisely resemble him, there are profound lessons to be learned from his representation.

The Nataraja figure is one of the eight forms of Shiva and is a prominent symbol in Hindu philosophy. This dynamic symbol showcases a one-legged god with four arms, each carrying an object or forming a mudra. Dancing within a circle of fire and treading on a dwarf, he embodies the roles of creator, preserver, and destroyer.

The cyclical nature of destruction and creation symbolizes the perpetual rhythm of existence.

Unraveling the Symbolism of Nataraja

Nataraja’s presence is especially prominent in South India, often depicted in metal form in Shaivite temples, which worship Shiva. The portrayal of Nataraja embodies the cosmic dance that represents the origin of the universe.

In his Nataraja manifestation, Shiva holds objects that symbolize his five responsibilities:

1. Creation

He holds a drum, known as the damaru, a musical instrument believed to have initiated the first sound, thereby giving rise to the universe.

2. Protection

His lower right hand is in the abhaya mudra, signifying fearlessness, a fundamental aspect of Hindu philosophy.

3. Destruction

One hand holds fire, representing destruction, encapsulated by a fiery circle surrounding him. This signifies the necessity of destruction for the regeneration and evolution of the universe.

4. Embodiment

Standing on one foot, Shiva illustrates his connection to the physical world. The dwarf beneath his feet symbolizes ignorance, representing the hindrance to attaining spiritual enlightenment.

5. Release

The raised foot and the Gaja Hasta Mudra remind practitioners of overcoming obstacles, as symbolized by Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.

Natarajasana: The Interplay of Creation and Destruction

While Nataraja embodies the role of creator, preserver, and destroyer, his representation signifies a broader concept. The idea of destruction is better understood as transformation; this cyclical nature is a reminder of the eternal rhythm of life. It serves as a metaphor for the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, akin to the changing seasons and the lunar phases.

Furthermore, dancing above the symbol of ignorance signifies the need to shed what no longer serves us, allowing space for growth and evolution.

Natarajasana: Signifying Mastery over the Mind

In the Bhagavad Gita, fearlessness is revered as a supreme spiritual quality. In the same spirit, Nataraja’s gestures and objects invite practitioners to embrace expansion and liberation.

Nataraja symbolizes the pursuit of growth, fearless liberation, and conquering barriers, encouraging practitioners to embody these virtues within their own lives.

Embracing Nataraja’s Symbols in Dancer Pose

When practicing our modern interpretation of Dancer Pose, recall the essence of Nataraja and his fearlessness. Each attempt at the pose is a reminder of the rhythm and flow of life symbolized by the sounds of the universe Nataraja holds.

With every rise and fall in Natarajasana, remind yourself of the Lord of the Dance, the melody he carries, and the energy flowing through him. This poignant reminder encapsulates the spirit of release and renewal, preparing you for the continuous cycle of life’s rhythms.

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