Dhanurasana
(Bow Bend Posture)

(don-your-AHS-anna)
dhanu = bow

Bow Pose requires flexibility and strength of the core and back. Increasing your physical fitness level, consistent practice of this pose will bring greater health to the nervous and digestive systems as the center of gravity rests in the abdomen. Bow requires great back strength. The chest, head, and legs are extended upwards.

Benefits

Stretches the entire front of the body: ankles, abdomen, chest, hip flexors, quadriceps and throat.

Strengthens the hips, legs, and torso.

Improves posture by increasing spinal flexibility and releasing back tension.

Stimulates the abdominal and throat organs to aid digestion and elimination.

 

Contraindications/Cautions

Abnormal Blood Pressure

Insomnia

Migraine

Spinal Injury

 

Performing the Asana

Lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso, palms up. For greater comfort, you may lie on a blanket under the hips to knees. Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as you can to your buttocks. Reach your hands back while lifting upwards from your mat, and take hold of your ankles. Make sure your knees aren't wider than the width of your hips, and keep your knees open slightly.

Inhale press your heels away from your buttocks and mat, while lifting your thighs and hips away from the floor. This will lift your center from the mat while elongating the spine. As you continue to elongate and lift, press your shoulder blades firmly towards the center of your spin to open your torso while your shoulders away from your ears.

Breathe as relaxed as possible into the back of your lungs.

 

Anatomical Focus

Thighs

Groins

Belly

Chest

Spine

Shoulders

Neck

 

Therapeutic Applications

Constipation

Respiratory ailments

Mild backache

Fatigue

Anxiety

Menstrual discomfort

 

Modify Your Practice

If it isn't possible for you to hold your ankles directly, wrap a strap around the fronts of your ankles and hold the free ends of the strap, keeping your arms fully extended.

 

Variations

A variation of Dhanurasana is called Parsva (parsva = side, flank) Dhanurasana. Perform Dhanurasana according to the instructions in the main description above. Then with an exhalation, dip your right shoulder toward the floor, strongly tug your left foot to the right, and roll over onto your right side. Students often have a difficult time rolling over for the first few times they make the attempt. Don't despair. You can practice rolling onto your side without holding your ankles. Just bend your knees and use your hands to help you get a feel for the rolling movement. Stay on your right side for 20 to 30 seconds, then, as you exhale, roll across your belly and over to the left. Stay here the same length of time, and finally roll back onto your belly with an exhalation. Parsva Dhanurasana gives a good massage to your abdominal organs.

 

Complimentary Yoga Poses

Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose
Salabhasana - Locust Position
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - Bridge Asana
Supta Virasana - Reclining Hero Pose
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana - Upwards Facing Dog Pose
Virasana - Hero Pose

 

Tips for Beginners

Sometimes beginners find it difficult to lift their thighs away from the floor. You can give your legs a little upward boost by lying with your thighs supported on a rolled-up blanket.

 

Deepen the Pose

You can increase the challenge of Dhanurasana by performing the pose with your thighs, calves, and inner feet touching.

 

Partner Practice

A partner can help you work on a preparation for Dhanurasana. Perform step 1 in the description above. Have your partner kneel on the floor behind you, with his inner knees bracing your outer knees. Inhale and lift your upper torso off the floor by pulling your heels away from your buttocks, but keep your thighs on the floor. Your partner should then take hold of the backs of your ankles. Hang your torso from your partner's support, but be sure that he doesn't pull you any deeper into the pose. When you're ready for more, lift yourself up. Your partner's presence is merely to support whatever lift you create on your own.