Nataraj Nataraja Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja
Shivaraj Shivaraja Shambho Shankara Shivaraja
Nataraja is an aspect of Shiva that represents creation as well as preservation and destruction. Typically we see these 3 qualities in the Hindu Trinity: Brahma- Creation, Vishnu- Preservation and Shiva- Destruction.
The beating of the damura (drum) represents the movement of all things material and immaterial.
As Nataraja steps upon Apasmara, who represents ignorance, he maintains purity and intellect that will lead us to discover the true self.
Nataraj is always surrounded by a circle of fire. The ring represents our conditioned existence, We have been conditioned by the collection of experiences we’ve encountered throughout our entire lives. Our conditioning is unavoidable and has some negative consequences. Mainly, the routines and habits, some of which we’ve become blinded to, that do not bring joy to our lives but instead brings misery, which in turn continues to act on our lives that can only bring more misery. For instance, smoking. We know that smoking is not good for us yet many will continue. Many times it is not the act of smoking but getting in a car, having a drink or some other cue that signals the smoker to light up. It is the habit that is part of our conditioning.
To change our habits and thus our conditioning we need to burn it off. Thus the fire. This fire in yoga is Tapas. Tapas is the effort we put in to create positive change in our lives. It can be as simple as waking up early, starting a meditation practice or fasting. The practice of postures in yoga is a perfect example of tapas. We willing put ourselves into sometimes challenging and/or uncomfortable postures and retrain our minds to deal with the discomfort. We train the mind in discipline. The same is so for fasting. Fasting is not about the physical benefits but the discipline that arises from it and, in turn the use of that disciple to exact change in our lives.
Every time we step onto our mat we burn off our Samsara (conditioned existence) and move towards Sukha (joy).