Yoga Asanas

Urdhva Dhanurasana - Upward Bow pose

Posted on 2019-03-07

Urdhva Dhanurasana is a Sanskriti name which when broken down it means "upward bow pose." The posture makes the spine to bend backward like a bow, thus the names upward bow, or full wheel pose. The pose has many health benefits such as heart and nervous system stimulation as well as mental clarity.

Attaining a perfect upward bow is not easy. To achieve its diverse health benefits, you have to grow into the pose through continuous training gradually. The journey is what makes it worthwhile not the results. The challenge helps your mind to focus and to be patient with your practice.  

In Urdhva Dhanurasana, the point is not running away from the challenge or gaining the perfect back bend on the first day. When you focus your mental energy on areas that may seem to be resisting movements, then ease into them gradually through a series of preparation poses.

Preparation Poses and Warm Up

Before you begin, take a few minutes to do preparation poses. To warm up your thoracic spine, make eight cycles of the Cat-cow pose.  Follow up the cat-cow pose with Surya Namaskar A combined with simple lunges pressing the back thigh upwards and the tailbone downwards.

After this, continue with Surya Namaskar B. The short stretching series will help in opening your chest, shoulders and the hip joints. To continue opening your shoulders, stretch the quadriceps, and strengthen the legs; sit on a block and assume a moderated Hero pose also known as virasana with your arms in Gomukhasana position. Repeat the cycle as needed.

Urdhva Dhanurasana in a 6 Steps Guide.

urdhva shanurasana step

Step 1: With your back flat on the mat, spread the arms alongside you.  Bend your knees such that your soles will be parallel to the floor and your legs the same width as your hips. While on this position, draw in your heels to be as close to your bum as possible.  

Step 2: Lift your arms so that they're above your head then bend the elbows such that your palms lie flat on the floor on either side of your head. Ensure that the palms are facing downwards and the fingers are spreading and resting beneath the shoulders.

Step 3: At this point, focus your mind on all your limbs. If you sense any resistance and dispel it out. Be intentional about staying in the moment. If there is any resistance or strain in your limb, focus on that first before proceeding to the next steps. When all is at ease, breathe in slowly and deeply then press the elbows towards the ceiling.  

Step 4: With your feet firmly on the floor, lift your hips upwards towards the ceiling. Your legs and your arms should be parallel to each other. To lift off your shoulders, breathe in deeply and press your palms firmly on the floor

Step 5: let your inner thighs and inner arms draw towards each other while your crown is slightly touching the mat. At this position, breathe in deeply and completely lift off the whole body with the focus of making a curve with your spine. Your neck should be relaxed and resting with gravity.

Step 6: Breathe easily and maintain the posture for a maximum of a minute before resetting and repeating up to 10 times if you need to.  To reset, lift off your head and move it towards your chest. Bend your knees and arms slowly before lowering your spine to the floor.

8 Benefits of Urdhva Dhanurasana

  1. The position helps to stretch your chest and expand your lungs for ease of breathing and general wellbeing.

  2. It helps in toning and strengthening and stretching abdominal muscles.

  3. Strengthens your shoulders.

  4. Strengthens your wrists.

  5. It cancels out negative energy and emotions, therefore, eliminating depression

  6. It strengthens your buttocks and it's a great way to extend your hips.

  7. Boosts energy levels and enhances mental clarity

  8. Strengthens your whole back chain, it activates your back body!

Scientific Facts Behind Upward Bow

Urdhva Dhanurasana is a challenging position that defies the mind, body, and emotions to break off fears and overcome trials. The process of achieving the position successfully despite its difficulties fills the soul with a feeling of joy and blissfulness.

Like any other yoga asana, it focuses on enhancing the already existing power and force around your pran and vyana as well as the heart. Focusing on existing force increases mental strength and a sense of awareness of what is within and around you. The result is a sense of fearlessness and unstoppable positive energy and achievement.

Physically, it strengthens the spine, arms, buttock muscles, wrist, neck muscles, lower back and shoulders giving them stability in the process.

Pre-Cautions of Urdhva Dhanurasana

Although this posture causes both physical and emotional wellbeing, you should still observe precautions if you experience any of the following conditions.

1. High or low blood pressure: Steer clear of this posture if you have unstable blood pressure. The sudden spike in energy could deteriorate your health.

2. Headaches: Don’t engage in this position unless a physician clears you.

3. Injured back or shoulders; upward bow exerts a lot of force on the shoulders and the back. If you have an injury on your shoulders and back, it’s best not to try.

4. Pregnancy: Avoid this posture in your second and third trimesters to avoid back injury and strain.


Urdhva Dhanurasana is a beginner friendly position as it sets the pace of breaking away from fear and overcoming challenges. It helps in eradicating mental fogginess and increase rationality and focus. After mastering the posture, your sense of happiness, wellbeing, and fearlessness will increase.

Also, you will experience a better physical strength for all the organs involved especially the spine, lower back, and legs. It will eliminate asthma, back problems, and infertility. You should practice the position daily on an empty stomach or six after eating. Mornings work best, but late evenings can work too if you don’t have time during the day.

Where to Start 

With one of our online yoga classes, Ashtanga Fundamentals or Yoga for beginners

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