how-to

Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana (Standing Half Bow Balance)

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Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana is an easier alternative to natarajasana (dancer’s pose). It still develops balance, poise, and grace — as well as flexibility of the spine and expansion of the upper body.

How To Practice 

Begin in mountain pose. While standing tall on your left foot, begin drawing your right leg back behind you. The end goal is to bend the knee so that the calf and foot point straight up towards the sky, while your thigh is level with the ground. This position is supported by your right arm stretched straight out behind you, with your hand holding the ankle. Your left arm is pointing straight out in front of you, palm up, with your index finger and thumb joined together. Your gaze should be soft and fixed straight ahead, through the joined fingers.

The finished pose does not form a circle like dancer’s pose does. It will look more like a rectangle.

Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

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Natarajasana is pronounced not-ah-raj-AHS-ana. The term “nata” means dancer; “raja” means king. The dancer’s pose is difficult. It should be practiced well into a session — when your muscles, joints, and emotions are flexible.  Natarajasana is one of the names of Siva, Lord of the Dance, inspirer of great Indian bronze and sculpture. Siva is also considered the source of yoga itself.

 

How To Practice

Begin standing tall in mountain pose (tadasana). Remain standing tall on the left leg while bending the right leg up and behind you, sole of the foot facing upward. Now grab your foot by the toes by reaching the right arm and hand behind you. This will all be made easier by pointing the toes out to your right and pointing the elbow of your right arm outward to the right, as well.

Slowly lift the right leg up and the foot toward your head. Throughout this movement, keep the right hip square and level with the left side of the body. You are essentially forming a circle. The final pose can have both hands holding the right leg behind your head — or the right hand only — while the left arm is pointed straight out in front of you, palm down.

As a balance pose, you will develop more poise and grace than you thought possible — in mind, body, and spirit. The upper body and vertebrae will receive full extension and expansion with this pose. It will also energize you.

Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III pose)

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Virabhadrasana is pronounced veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-ana. The term “virabhadra” means a mythic warrior sage. The warrior I, II, and III poses are inspired by the mythic character described in the poem “The Birth of the War Lord,” by Kalidasa. The poses are grounding, since they require a firm foundation on the feet. They are also integrating, since they incorporate the upper and lower body in a coordinated effort.

How To Practice

Doing this asana will require more effort because the muscles are lengthened and held steady in the stretched out position. This pose resembles Warrior I in that you begin in mountain pose (tadasana) and then jump your legs about 4′ apart and raise your arms overhead, with fingers reaching towards the sky, palms in.

Next, face your torso forward, simultaneously bending your right knee until it is in a 90 degree angle to the thigh and your palms come together. Now the pose morphs away from Warrior I into Warrior III. To do this, lift your back foot onto your toes, pointing forward. Then lift your rear leg horizontal to the floor also, as the arms go from being overhead to pointed horizontally in front of you as well. The finishing point is obtained as weight of your body is balanced on a straight, perpendicular right leg.

Return to mountain pose and repeat on the other side.

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)

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Virabhadrasana is pronounced veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-ana. The term “virabhadra” means a mythic warrior sage. The warrior I, II, and III poses are inspired by the mythic character described in the poem “The Birth of the War Lord,” by Kalidasa. The poses are grounding, since they require a firm foundation on the feet. They are also integrating, since they incorporate the upper and lower body in a coordinated effort.

Doing this asana will require more effort because the muscles are lengthened and held steady in the stretched position. Begin in mountain pose (tadasana) and then jump your legs about 4′ apart, while simultaneously raising your arms straight out at shoulder level, horizontal to the floor.

The next step is to raise your arms straight over your head, palms facing each other, while simultaneously rotating slowly at the hips so that your front leg can point straight forward and rear leg can rotate half as much.

Finally, bend your right knee until the calf and thigh form a right angle. Keep your upper body stretched straight up to the sky, bringing your palms together. Also maintain the weight of your lower body on both legs, being sure not to bring the support of your body only over the bent leg.

Return to mountain pose and repeat on the other side, left leg forward.

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