Dhanurasana - Bow Pose
The Dhanurasana pose reminds us to have balance in life just like the bow. Too much tension in the string of the bow and it might snap or too little and the bow cannot be used. The name Dhanurasana is derived from the Sanskrit words Dhanu meaning bow and asana meaning posture. It, therefore, translates to bow pose in English.
The pose is also known as Urdhva Chakrasana (the upward wheel pose).
Dhanurasana Step by Step
Step 1: Lie flat on your belly with the legs hip-width apart. Place your arms beside your body.
Step 2: Bend your knees as you exhale, bringing your heels as close enough to the buttocks as you can.
Step 3: Bring your hands back and hold on to the ankles of your feet. Ensure that you maintain the hip width all through the pose.
Step 4: inhale and strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks and at the same time lift your thighs off the floor. As you do this, your torso and head will also pull off the floor. As you pull up, press the shoulder blades to your back so that you open your heart.
Step 5: move your shoulders away from your ears and have your gaze forward. Hold the pose for a set time and then release. To release let go of the ankles and slowly lower your legs to the floor.
For some people, it might be difficult to reach the ankles due to a stiffness of the back. You can tie straps to your ankles and hold on to the straps but ensuring that your arms are fully extended.
Bhujangasana, Salabhasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Supta Virasana, urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Virasana
Follow Up Poses
Matsyasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Ustrasana
Strengthens the back
Strengthens the abdominal muscles
Tones the arms and the thighs
Stretches the entire front of the body.
Stretches the ankles, thighs, and hips
Stimulates organs of the abdomen and neck
Tip of the nose or open sky gaze
The most common variation to this pose is the Parsva Dhanurasana which is the side bow pose. To do this pose you will complete all the steps above until you are in Dhanurasana. Then tug your right shoulder to the floor and strongly tug your feet together.
Now roll over so that you lie on your side while still in the pose. It might take a few attempts to get it right but if you find it difficult you can try it without holding your ankles with your hands.
This pose has been used to show our power spiritually and physically. A story is told of the celestial bow given to King Janaka by Lord Shiva. This bow was so heavy that no mortal was able to lift it except for the king’s daughter Sita. The king, therefore, used this as a test to get Sita a husband.
He gave a test that whoever would lift the bow would marry his daughter. Only Rama was able to lift it and more so string it so powerfully that he broke the string. Through the bow, Sita became Rama’s Queen.
If you are unable to lift your thighs off the floor, you can place a folded blanket underneath the thighs for support.
The backbend in this pose is not due to the strength of the arms. Rather, it is due to the lengthening of the spine and the lift of the torso and the thighs.