Natarajasana improves balance and focus. It strengthens the legs, hips, ankles, and chest, and helps one develop grace. It also promotes inner stillness and consciousness of the world changing all around.
Traditionally, nataraja is the king, or lord, of the dance, which is the cosmic dance of creation, preservation and dissolution. Named after him, natarajasana teaches one to recognize contrasts. On one hand, one is aware of the dance of life, with all its rhythms, cycles, challenges and rewards; but, behind all of this, there is absolute stillness. This pose helps the practitioner to be able to witness all of these movements and changes, but remain changeless. In other words, to be still while dancing and to dance while being still.
There are variations of this pose in which one can grasp the inside of the lifted foot with the opposite hand and the outside of the foot with the other hand. This requires even greater balance and helps to open the chest even more. Some teachers instruct students to raise the extended arm up to the sky instead of keeping it parallel in order to keep the heart lifted. Also, as this is a backbend, it is important not to pitch the torso forward, but lift the heart upwards instead.