Hatha Yoga Tip
NATARAJASANA – DANCING LORD SIVA – A balance posture
Begin by standing firmly on both feet. Balance on your left foot keeping the weight firmly on this foot throughout the balance and lift the right ankle to grasp with the right hand.
Breathing slowly and rhythmically helps establish the balance. Concentrating on a spot in front of you and spreading the toes of the standing foot helps stabilize balance.
Keeping the back straight and the head level, inhale and raise the left arm straight up stretching the fingers up with the hand. The arm is kept alongside the left ear. Keep establishing and maintaining the balance while breathing and focusing on a spot. Keep the straight arm in line with the standing leg which is straight. This vertical alignment will help stabilize the balance and provide a stable base for the back bending to follow.
Now as the right foot is taken up and back, the right thigh is also going back. The chest will push out. The right shoulder can be rotated back to help with the back bending. The left arm remains straight up by the ear.
Deep breathing is natural in this posture with the chest open. Keep breathing rhythmically.
Hold for up to 30 seconds and release the posture slowly, then repeat on other leg (right) and holding the left ankle following the above steps.
Once this posture has been successfully and comfortably accomplished, then the back bend can be increased gradually while holding up the ankle and leg. The foot is pulled up and closer to the shoulder on that side. The thigh also then needs to stretch further back while the standing leg is straight and firm, weight firmly on that foot. The elbow is lifted while still holding on to the foot. The wrist is rotated holding the upper part of the foot now. While maintaining the deep rhythmical breathing, hold posture for up to 30 seconds. Rather than having the body tipping forward, the chest is pushed out and the back considerably more arched with this advanced version. The opposite arm is held up straight as previously. Release and repeat on the opposite side.
In the full pose, bring the left arm over the head and place it on the right foot, you are holding the foot with both hands. Again hold the pose then release and repeat opposite side.
Mental: Standing in a one leg balanced pose keep the mind focused with the concentration required in these postures. Gazing at a spot in front increases this level of concentration.
Physical: The long femoral muscle on the front of the thigh is given a good stretch. Caution- ease into the stretch gently without over stretching this large muscle. The required standing and balance on one leg strengthens all the muscles in that leg. The shoulder and arm muscles are toned, the triceps muscle in the arm stretched with the upward angle of the arms. The rib cage and sternum are stretched out in the front of the body, increasing lung capacity, while the muscles of the back are contracted and toned.
There is no pleasure in things finite. The Infinite alone is bliss itself. – Swami Sivananda
We must abolish lust, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy and fear within ourselves. – Swami Vishnudevananda
This yoga asana is an edited contribution for the Sivananda Gurugram partly sourced and edited from the Sivananda Publication : “Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion” – Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre – 2010. Other yoga tips at http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/asana/101tips.html
There is no bond stronger than Maya. There is no power greater than Yoga, to destroy this bond. – Sri Swami Sivananda
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Empty yourself of your egoism, then the Divine will fill your heart to the brim. – Sri Swami Sivananda
TAMASIC: describes the qualities of darkness, inertia in an object. The root word, Tamas, is one of the three gunas that all objects are comprised. Tamasic is a quality attributed to describe dark, lethargic, unaware properties of thoughts, words or actions.
The Tamasic diet consists of a list of foods that practitioners of the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda consider to be Tamasic, meaning that they may cause certain potentially harmful mental and physical conditions. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, people wishing to become serious students of yoga should avoid Tamasic foods in their quest to achieve a healthy balance between their mind, emotions and body. Ayurveda teaches there are two other diets besides the Tamasic that can also affect this balance: Sattvic and Rajasic.
The natural medical system of Ayurveda has been practiced in India for thousands of years and bases its teaching on three Gunas, or primary qualities, that are said to exist in all natural things. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Each represents a different quality: Sattva is purity, Rajas is activity or passion and Tamas is inertia or darkness. In every material object, person or action, the characteristics of all three gunas are present; one, however, is always dominant. Whether a person’s diet consists of Sattvic foods, Rajasic foods or Tamasic foods determines which Guna influences their thoughts and actions.
The Tamasic diet is characterized by the following foods: meat, fish, onions, garlic, curds, mushrooms, alcohol and any other fermented foods, including vinegar, bread, pastries and cakes. Any stale, overripe or under ripe, tasteless and rotten foods are also considered Tamasic, as is tobacco, or any kind of drug, plus any foods that have been processed, including those that are preserved in any way, canned or frozen. The prana/subtle life energy is low in these items.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that a person who eats primarily Tamasic foods is doing harm to both their minds and their bodies. Ayurveda teaches that such a person will lose Prana, or life energy, and will be filled with strong, dark urges such as greed or anger, coupled with a lack of proper reasoning skills and a sense of inertia.
The Bhagavad Gita describes the nature of Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic natures in Chapter XVIII as follows:
“That which knows the path of work and renunciation, what ought to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation-that intellect is Sattvic (pure), O Arjuna. That by which one wrongly understands Dharma and Adharma and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done-that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic. That which, enveloped in darkness, sees Dharma as Adharma, and all things perverted-that intellect is Tamasic.”
Light, positive, sattvic or pure thoughts are calm and can be more easily transcended. Rajasic (extrovert) and Tamasic (dull) thoughts like anger, jealousy and greed are difficult to control. The question, then, is how to purify the thoughts and experience positive thinking.
A glossary can be found at:
Develop the eye of intuition. Have a vision of the Infinite. – Sri Swami Sivananda