Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Karana Mean?

Karana is a Sanskrit term that can be translated to mean "doing" in English. Karana is a key transition of an Indian dance, outlined and defined in "Natya Shastra," the Indian study of performing arts. Natya Shastra describes 108 karanas and it states that one who performs them will be liberated from all sins. The karanas listed and explained in "Natya Shastra" refer to the Hindu god, Shiva, doing them on Kailasa. Each karana subsists of three elements: sthana (pose of the body), nrttahasta (arm movement) and caari (leg movement).


Yogapedia Explains Karana

Karana can be defined as the combined movement of arms and legs in a dance. It is not a static pose, it is an action. The "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" states that karanas should be practiced together with khumbakas and asanas in order to reach the goals of Raja yoga. Legend says that Shiva used to dance every evening and his dance consisted of the 108 karanas. The expression of his cosmic dance is called nata yoga.

It is said that out of the 108 karanas outlined in the Natya Shastra, only 36 are usable in the yoga practice and some of the Hatha yoga poses are adaptations of different karanas.

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