What is a Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)?
The Bow pose is also called Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) in Sanskrit where the word ‘Dhanu’ means ‘Bow’ and ‘Asana’ which means ‘Pose’. It is one of the 12 fundamental Hatha yoga poses. The bow pose is a definition of strength and grace. It is a backbend yoga posture that engages the back of the body while lengthening the front of the body, opening the heart center.
This asana stimulates and stretches all the major muscles groups like; hamstrings, chest, hip, knee, arms shoulders, neck, back, triceps and biceps. The advantages of practicing this posture range from physical wellbeing to emotional wellness.
This posture should only be performed after a good warm-up session to avoid any kind of injuries. The bow pose can also be practiced to prepare for deeper backbend postures.
Position type: Lying Down(Back or Front)
Spinal bend: Back Bend
Ideal for: Flexibility of Spine
Targets: Back Muscles
Pose Level: Intermediate
How can you prepare for the Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)?
Since this posture is for intermediate-level practitioners, It is extremely important to prepare your body to practice the bow pose. So for that, you should first start practicing easier backbends like Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Crocodile Pose (Makrasana), Locust Pose (Salabasana). Practicing these asanas regularly will help your back to become more flexible and eventually you will be able to notice that you can get into the Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) very easily.
How to practice the Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)?
Getting in the posture
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body.
- Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Grip the ankles with the hands.
- Keep the knees and thighs firmly on the floor and the arms straight throughout the practice.
- Place the chin on the floor.
- Tense the legs and lift the feet backward while raising the head and chest as high as possible from the floor without straining.
- Use the backward movement of the legs to assist the raising of the body, allowing the back muscles to remain passive. In the final position, the gaze is upwards without compressing the neck.
Getting out of the posture
- Slowly lower the chest and head to the ground by releasing the legs.
- Relax in the prone position until the respiration returns to normal.
What are the key benefits of Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)?
The pose massages the liver, kidney, abdominal organs, and muscles. It also tones and balances the secretions in the pancreas and adrenal glands. This pose is also very useful for managing diabetes and menstrual disorders.
Practicing this posture also helps in blood circulation and corrects hunching of the upper back.
People who suffer from a weak heart, high blood pressure, hernia, colitis, peptic or duodenal ulcers should not attempt this practice. This asana should not be practised before sleep at night as it stimulates the adrenal glands and the sympathetic nervous system.
Counter poses of Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Child's pose (Balasana) is a great counter movement after an intense backbend. Practising a Child's pose would help in relaxing the hip, groin, and thigh muscles extensively.
Variations of Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Initially, it will be difficult to get into the Bow pose. So you can practice Ardha Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) where you need to lift up only one leg instead of two.You can also practice the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) as a step-down version.
These asanas are the stepping stones before getting into the Dhanurasana (Bow Pose).
Advice for Beginners
For a beginner, it might be difficult to reach the ankles at first, try placing a strap around your ankles to extend your reach.
How long can you hold Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)?
If you are a beginner, try holding this asana for 10-12 seconds, if you are an intermediate or an advanced level practitioner, you can hold this pose for 30 seconds.
Practicing this pose initially might feel difficult, in that case, it is important to learn yoga under the guidance of a teacher who will teach you how exactly you can achieve this posture without causing any injury.