Dhanurasana – The secret to improve your posture

Dhanurasana - How to do it

It is usually translated as Bow Pose in English, with Dhanu meaning Bow and asana meaning Posture. When you are in this pose, your arms are like the bowstring, whereas your head and torso are the bow’s body.

 

In recent years, the popularity of science and technology heavily changed the way to communicate and work. People spend much more time using mobile phones and sitting in front of laptops etc. It dramatically impacted our body postures without us even noticing that—for example, hunchback and forward head.

However, many yoga poses can help us fix/improve this posture with practice. Dhanurasana is a good stretch pose to balance front and back groups of muscles.

Step by Step Practice

1.       Lie on your belly

2.       Exhale – bend your knees to lift your feet to bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks

3.       Engage the posterior deltoids and the triceps to extend the shoulder and extend the elbows and grab the ankle.

4.       Inhale – Engage your hamstrings and gluteus maximus to bring the legs higher, at the same time depress your shoulder blades (trapezius and rhomboids) firmly to open your heart. Gaze forward.  Stay here for 5-10 breathes

Some tips to deepen the pose

1.       Engage the anterior tibialis muscles on the front of the shins and bend the ankle by flex the feet

2.       Engage the adductor longus to avoid the over-opening of the leg, to keep the legs parallel with each other

3.       Engage the erector spinae to arch your lower back

Benefits to the posture

1.       It stretches the pectoralis major and rectus abdomen to lengthen the front line of your body

2.       It strengthens the back muscle groups

Cautions

1.       Period

2.       Serious lower-back or neck injury

3.       Stomach surgeries

4.       High or low blood pressure

Anatomy of a Pose: Uttanasana

Uttanasana is a standing forward fold, which is considered very good for relieving stress and soothing the nervous system. The focus is at the shoulders and thighs. It is one of the most appropriate yoga daily pose for beginners and those who have no time for exercise.

Here’s the cue:

  • In Tadasana, standing straight with legs and feet together, erect spine, chest slightly lifted and hands to the side of the body. Exhale and bend from your hips, continue to bend till your hands touch your feet. (take a few breaths)
  • Shift your weight forward, slowly stretch your hips and bend further. (without straining the body)
  • Place the palm by the side of your feet and keep the knees and legs straight. If you can’t, you may micro-bend the knees OR grab the ankles or claves if you can’t place the palm on the floor.
  • Bring your forehead to your knees, close your eyes, and relax the body.
  • Take deep and slow breaths here.
  • As you retain the pose, gently try to stretch the spine further.
  • To move out of the posture, inhale and lift the palm off the ground. Slowly straighten your body keeping the neck down. Lastly, straighten the head.

Activating the muscles:

Pelvis and Legs

  • The psoas, pectineus and rectus femoris flex the hips and tilt the pelvis slightly forward.
  • The front part of the gluteus medius and the tensor fascia lata combine to turn the hips slightly inward so the kneecaps face directly inward.
  • The quadriceps, the large muscles down the front thighs contract to straighten the knees. The action creates reciprocal inhibition, relaxing the muscles on the back thigh (hamstring).
  • The thighs are drawn together by the adductor muscles on the inside of each thigh.

Trunk, Shoulders and Arms

  • The large band-like muscle on the front of the abdomen, the rectus abdominis, contracts to bend the trunk forward.
  • The lower part of the trapezius, which span the back, draws the shoulder away from the neck.
  • The front part of the deltoids moves the shoulders forward. The biceps bend the elbow, when the hands are fixed on the ground, these actions push the trunk deeper into the pose.

 

Common Mistakes: Make sure you fold from the hips not the waist or the back. A fold from the back will result in a curved spine that hands over the legs.

Benefits:

  • Relieve stomach pain and aids digestion.
  • Increase the strength and flexibility of the spine.
  • Stretches the hips, muscles of legs and hamstring.
  • Stimulates the functioning of kidney, liver and spleen.