Dhanurasana - Bow Pose

 

Pronunciation: (don-your-ah-sanna)

Dhanu:// bow

Benefits:

  • Stretches the entire front body including chest ,shoulders, thorax, hip flexors and quads.

  • Strengthens the back muscles.

  • Counteracts the effects of a sedentary lifestyle (think hunching over a desk or steering wheel) by opening the shoulders and chest, and in turn improving posture.

  • Stimulates the digestive organs, improving the function of kidneys, liver, small and large intestines, which is great for your metabolism.

  • Reduces stress and anxiety by massaging the adrenal glands which regulates the release of cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline.

  • Opens the heart, cultivating fearlessness, confidence and empowerment.

How To:

  • Begin the pose lying flat on your stomach, arms resting beside the body palms facing up.

  • Bend your knees, flex your feet and bring your heels towards the buttock.

  • Reach back with your hands to grab the outer ankles, externally rotating your shoulders and opening the chest. (if you’re unable to do reach your ankles see modification with props below)

  • Inhale lifting your chest and thighs, equally engaging your legs and upper back.

  • Try not to let your legs splay outwards, knees should remain hip width apart.

  • Look forward and smile, releasing the facial muscles and maintaining space in your neck and shoulders.

  • With each inhale lift a little higher if it’s available to you.

  • Hold for up to five breaths and release.

Important Things To Note:

  • As this is a backbend be sure to warm up the spine first with poses such as  Bhujangasana (cobra pose), or Salabhasana (locust pose).

  • In this pose the Manipura Chakra (solar plexus chakra based at the naval) is activated. The Manipura Chakra is connected to confidence, clarity of thought and empowerment – this teamed with the chest opening makes for a powerful asana!

  • Don’t forget to breathe! It can be difficult to fully inhale in this pose so try to breath into your lower back. 

“Rama, with his bow, is a symbol of one who has realized the unity of individual and ultimate reality; his bow represents the sustained practice, the  sadhana , which makes it possible for everyone to reach that goal.” via  Yoga International

“Rama, with his bow, is a symbol of one who has realized the unity of individual and ultimate reality; his bow represents the sustained practice, the sadhana, which makes it possible for everyone to reach that goal.” via Yoga International

Props:

  • If you’re unable to reach your ankles, use a strap as pictured, to give length to the pose and to maintain correct alignment of the spine.

  • You can also place a rolled up blanket below your quads to help lift them.

The Mundaka Upanishad (2.2.4) uses archery as a metaphor for spiritual practice. The mantra Om is the bow. The target is supreme reality, personified as Brahman. The seeker’s own self is the arrow. The senses are the string. Pulling back the string—withdrawing the senses from the claims of the sense objects—represents meditation, the process of redirecting energy from external objects to the real goal. With repeated, devoted practice, over time the individual self becomes as one-pointed as an arrow in flight; through that energetic concentration, the seeker hits the target. The sharp focus which leads to a state of union between the individual soul and cosmic consciousness, or God—this is the state of yoga.