Deepening Dhanurasana

Dhaurasana is also known as the Bow Pose for its resemblance to the drawn bow. The torso and thighs are the bow while the upper extremities and the legs are the string. This asana provides a good massage to the abdominal organs (stomach, intestines, pancreas, reproductive organs). As such, it can increase the digestive power of the individual, cure constipation, and help alleviate menstrual disorders among women.

To begin, lie on the belly with hands alongside the torso. Facing downwards, the spine is in a neutral position. The shoulders are rotated inwards with palms facing upwards. The knees are hip width apart. During exhalation, the knees are flexed, with the heels brought as close to the buttocks as possible. As the hands reach back to grasp the ankles, the elbows supinate slightly such that the eyes of the elbows are facing each other. The tailbone is tucked in as the lumbar region is flexed.

To lift up, inhale and lift the thighs away from the floor. The upper torso and the head will be pulled off the floor. At the same time, the heels are lifted away from the buttocks as the knee joints extend from a flexed position. This action is made possible by the quadriceps femoris muscles  which are in concentric contraction. As these muscles contract concentrically against the resistance of the arms and forearms, tension is created which then pull the body into an arc. The lumbar region and the hip joints will be extended in this action.

To deepen the pose by pulling up further, a few actions are necessary. 1) The shoulders are retracted and the trapezius muscles in concentric contraction. As such, the antagonistic deltoids are in eccentric contraction. This opens up the chest further and energizes the heart chakra. 2) The erector spinae is in concentric contraction while the abdominal muscles are in eccentric contraction. This action stretches the whole spine, thus giving rise to its sympathetic effects. 3) The gluteal muscles are in concentric contraction, thus assisting in lifting the heels away from the buttocks. Collectively, these actions provide more lift, thus lifting the pelvis away from the floor. This also gives the knee joint a further extension.

The stomach pressing against the floor will make breathing difficult. However, breathing will give the abdominal organs a good massage hence giving rise to its many benefits, as the upper half of the body rock upwards with each inhalation and drop forwards with each exhalation.