(Dhanurasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Intermediate

Bow Pose

(Dhanurasana)

Bow Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning in prone position (on belly), placing a folded blanket under hips and lower abdomen. Forehead rests on mat, arms by sides palms up, legs and tops of feet extended onto mat. On an exhalation, bend knees bringing heels toward buttocks. Arms reach back, hands take hold of outside of ankles, flex feet.

2

Shoulder blades draw slightly in toward spine and down back (away from ears). Thighs are energized, knees hip-width apart. Buttocks are firm, but not clenched.

3

On an inhalation, lift thighs and torso away from mat, heels move away from buttocks, low abs firm up and in, sides of waist lengthen evenly from hips to the ribcage, shoulders move away from ears as chest broadens and heart shines forward.

4

Gaze can be forward or slightly down. Relax jaw and face. Breath is steady. Soften the tops the shoulders away from the ears, inner thighs lift slightly, outer thighs roll down, knees remain hip-width apart.

5

To come out of the pose, on an exhalation, release down and relax the entire body in prone position.

Variations/Modifications

  • Block between the thighs to activate legs and maintain hip-distance in knees
  • Unable to reach ankles, use strap around outside of ankles holding on to either end, finding the right length to maintain extension in arms, being mindful not to strain shoulders
  • Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
  • One-legged Bow (Ardha Dhanurasana) with or without strap

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens all major muscles in the back body, stretches entire front body
  • Expands the chest, opening the diaphragm and shoulder joints
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, aiding digestion
  • Opens the breath, improving respiratory conditions, reducing anxiety and fatigue
  • Energizing
  • Heart Opening

Contraindications

  • Serious Spinal Injury
  • Knee injury
  • Unable to Lie in Prone (pregnancy or digestive issues)
  • High or Low Blood Pressure

Thoughtful Sequencing

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), inhaling to lift, exhaling to lower 5 times. Locust Pose (Salabhasana) inhaling to lift, exhaling to lower 5 times, hold pose 3-5 breaths, exhaling to release. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) or repeat Locust (Salabhasana), hold 3-5 breaths, exhaling to release and rest in prone. Mindfully roll onto back, Reclined Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana), Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)

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