Definition - What does Natarajasana mean?
Natarajasana is a standing asana that requires balance and concentration.
Begin by standing straight with arms at the sides. Bend the right leg backward with the heel lifted to the right buttock and the knee bent. The right hand reaches back and grasps the outside of the right foot or ankle. Then the right leg moves up as much as possible, pressing the foot or ankle into the right hand. The left arm is stretched forward, parallel to the floor. This asana is held for a couple of breaths and then repeated on the other side.
The name comes from the Sanskrit nata, meaning "dancer," raja, meaning "king," and asana, meaning "pose" or "posture." The common English name for this pose is dancer's pose (or lord of the dance pose).
Yogapedia explains Natarajasana
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.