Dhanurasana ( Bow pose)

Dhanu ( or Dhanush) – Bow
Asana – Pose

Dhanurasana is a backbend in prone position that makes the body look like an archer’s bow. The arched torso and legs representing the arch of the bow and the straight arms look like the string. This pose provides a great stretch for the abdomen & thighs and opens up the chest.

Step1:
Lie on the belly with palms by your side. Bend both knees and bring your heels above your buttocks. Extend your arms back and grasp the outside of your ankles with both hands. Make sure that your knees are not wider than hip width apart.

Step 2:
Inhale and push your quads higher up, away from the floor and at the same time push your shins away from your buttocks. This will lift your chest off the ground. Depress your scapula and rotate shoulder externally to open up the chest area. Move your shoulders away from your ears, creating space around the neck.

Step 3:
Continue to breathe normally.
Feel the stretch in the quadriceps and transverse abdominus, contraction of hamstrings and the hip abductor muscles
The quadriceps and Transverse abdominus are stretched. Hamstrings are contracted. Hip abductor muscles provide stability along with the anterior pelvic muscles.

Duration:
Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds. Repeat up to 2-3 times.

Modifications:
If you can’t reach your ankles, you can wrap a strap around the front of the ankles and grab the free ends as close to your feet as possible.

Another way to ease into the pose is to practice one leg at a time.

Tip:
To deepen the stretch, bring both legs closer together until the knees, thighs and shins touch each other.

Variation:
Parsva Dhanurasana can be performed by rolling over on your side while maintaining the pose. Hold on each side for 20-30 seconds.

Benefits:

  • Relieves Stomach ailments like constipation and diarrhea
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Helps overcome fatigue
  • Eases menstrual discomfort
  • Helps with respiratory ailments
  • Relaxes anxiety & fatigue
  • Massages liver & aids digestion
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Stretches entire front of body
  • Improves posture (corrects a hunch back)

Contraindications:
Do not attempt this pose on a full stomach and if you suffer from any of the following conditions:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Back injury
  • Neck injury
  • Migraine
  • Heart trouble
  • Hernia

Common alignment issues:

Feet can be wider apart than hip width. This can cause injury to knees.
Solution: placing a block between the thighs and pressing inwards to keep it in place will ensure that hips don’t spread beyond safe limits.

Chakra illuminated:
Manipura Chakra

Prapti (Yoga TTC200hr, January 2016)