I think all backbends are beautiful and elegant but if I had to name one backbend I like the most, it would have to be Dhanurasana. Dhanura means “bow” and Asana means “posture” or “seat” and therefore Dhanurasana can be translated to Bow pose.
In order to get into the pose, the following steps should be taken:
- First lie on your stomach and place your hands alongside your body with the palms facing up.
- On your exhalation, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your hips. Reach your hands back and hold onto your ankles.
- On your inhalation, kick your feet into your hands and lift your thighs and chest off the floor. Make sure your knees do not go wider than hip width, draw your shoulders away from your ears and gaze forward.
- Stay in this pose for 5-6 breaths and release the pose on your exhalation.
Dhanurasana is a great stretch for the front body, chest, shoulders, thighs and hip flexors. It strengthens the back muscles, improves posture, and stimulates the reproductive organs. It can also help relieve menstrual pain, constipation and fatigue. However, there are several contraindications such as high or low blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, and serious lower back or neck injuries. A more advanced variation is padangustha dhanurasana where you flip your grip and instead of holding onto the ankles, you are holding onto your toes or tops of your feet. Padangustha dhanurasana requires a significant amount of shoulder and back flexibility so make sure to take your time warming up these areas before attempting this pose.
In order to get into this pose,
- Lie on your stomach, bend your knees and flex your feet.
- Grab onto your feet from the pinky side and hold onto the big toe side of your feet.
- As you inhale, roll both shoulders forward.
- Hold onto your toes and kick your feet into your hands.
- Release on your exhalation.