Dhanurasana or the Bow Pose as it is popularly known in English gets its name from the position you assume for this pose. In this extensive backbend, your body, from the legs to the head looks like the curved portion of the bow while your arms resemble the string.
While strengthening your back and core, it also stretches your hamstrings and lengthens the hip flexors. It helps your posture by expanding your chest and shoulders thus acting as a wonderful counter for your slouching posture.
Moreover, it does wonders for the abdominal muscles. By keeping the abdomen on the ground, this pose is essentially massaging and stimulating the organs such as your gut, stomach, liver, and kidney which promotes better digestion.
This pose is often performed as a warm-up pose for further advanced backbends like wheel pose (chakrasana) and camel pose (ustrasana)
Let us see how we can perform this pose.
How to Do Dhanurasana( Bow Pose)
- Lay on your stomach with your arms beside your body. Your forehead touching the ground and your legs should be hip-width apart.
- Bring your feet as near to your buttocks as you can by bending your knees. Point your toes in the direction of your head.
- Grab your ankles by extending your arms backward. To move your arms toward your feet, slightly lift up your torso and head.
- Pull your legs up and toward you, elevating your torso even higher. To properly position your head, keep your look forward.
- Lengthen your tailbone to keep your spine supple and bendable.
- You can continue lifting your legs if it seems comfortable to intensify the stretch.
- Hold this pose for a minimum of 3-5 breaths. Gently bring your arms and legs down to come back to the resting position.
Tips to Remember
- Perform Dhanurasana 3-4 hours after a meal to prevent muscle cramps or digestive problems.
- If your hands are unable to grip your ankles, shoulders, or knees because they are stiff, you can use a strap. The strap should be wrapped around the ankles, and to close the gap, grab the ends with both hands.
- Before you lie down to practice, put a folded blanket there to provide more padding for your pelvis and abdomen.
- Don\’t push yourself to extend your legs. If you can only lift your head and chest at first, maintain that position and gradually build up the lift.
- Don\’t grip your feet from the top since you can lose hold of them in the middle of practice and run the danger of getting hurt.
- In case of a stiff neck, do not force your head to tilt back or let it hand freely to the front. Make sure it remains in a natural position as you keep your gaze to the front.
- If you are a beginner, you can start by bending and holding one leg. Do this with both legs for 3-5 breaths each in one sitting. This way, you will be able to work on enhancing your stability and holding time gradually.
- Perform poses like Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukhsvasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana), and Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) to prepare for performing the bow pose.
- Advanced practitioners can try to further bend the leg to touch the crown of the head. However, this is a highly challenging pose and should only be done if you have attained enough flexibility.
- This pose should not be done by anyone with a hernia, appendicitis, or severe sciatica.
- Exercise extreme caution or refrain from performing this pose if you have spondylitis, insomnia, migraines, or headaches.
- It is best to avoid practicing this pose if you have a cardiovascular condition or high or low blood pressure, or at the very least, speak to your teacher and doctor before you do.
- Avoid this pose if you recently had surgery or an injury to your lower back, core, thighs, knees, or shoulders.
- If you are pregnant, avoid doing this pose.
Benefits of Dhanurasana
Dhanurasana boosts the strength and flexibility of the spine along with the muscles of the entire back. It also removes any stiffness or tension in the neck, shoulders, ankles, and hips. Your chest is encouraged to open which enhances the lung capacity. These are some essential benefits of this pose. Other benefits of Dhanurasana are as follows:
- Corrects the spinal alignment.
- Energizes and fortifies your lower back.
- Improves your posture and counters the effects of sitting in a hunched position.
- Enhances spinal flexibility preventing ailments like herniated discs or slip disc.
- Prevents sagging of shoulders.
- Tones and stretches the hamstrings, calves, and legs.
- Prevents menstrual problems in women.
- Improves the functions of the stomach, liver, intestines, spleen, and pancreas.
- Stretches and tones the abdominal muscles and improves the functions of the organs.
- Enhances the functions of the digestive organs thus presenting gastrointestinal issues like constipation, bloating, flatulence, etc.
- Increases your immunity and circulation, both of which keep you healthy.