Ancient Yogic traditions consider the spinal column to be the root to our tree of life. Dhanurasana or the bow pose is one such pose which nourishes the spine in addition to providing several other benefits. Dhanurasana is derived from the Sanskrit word – Dhanush which means bow. In the final pose, the body mimics the shape of a bow with its string stretched back.
I’ve tried to break down and simplify this pose for the readers. Dhanurasana falls in the category of backward bending poses and hence is a stimulating and extroverting pose. Complete beginners should seek guidance from a trained Yoga teacher to execute the pose. As with any backbend, Dhanurasana has beneficial repercussions throughout the body as it tones and strengthens the muscles controlling the spine and decompresses the spinal nerves which give energy to all the other nerves, organs and muscles in the body.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritties now.
How to get into the pose:
- Lie on your belly with the head turned to one side.
- Bend your knees bringing the heels close to your buttocks and reach back with your hands to grasp the ankles from the outside.
- As you breathe in tense your leg muscles and push the feet away from the body. Arch your back and lift the chest, head and thighs off the ground. The arms are straight.
- Breathe and relax in the posture. In the final pose, the head is tilted back and the abdomen supports the whole body on the floor. Back and arms are relaxed.
- Know your flexibility and do not push beyond it. Try to keep your mind focussed on the physical sensations. Stay in the posture for 10 breaths and then release. Practice 3 rounds.
- Follow up with a forward bending posture.
What it does for you:
- Helps get rid of menstrual discomfort and chronic constipation.
- Treats gastrointestinal disorders, dyspepsia and sluggishness of liver.
- Corrects the posture by removing the hunching of upper back.
- Strengthens the legs and improves the flexibility of spine.
- Improves blood circulation.
- Massages the liver, abdominal organs and abdominal muscles. Leads to improved function of digestive, respiratory, excretory and reproductive organs.
- Tones the kidneys, pancreas and adrenal glands.
When not to practice the bow pose:
- If you have a high blood pressure, weak heart, hernia or peptic or duodenal ulcers.
- If you are pregnant.
- If you have an excessive lower back curve (lumbar lordosis).
- Just after your meals.
- Just before bedtime, as it stimulates the adrenal gland and sympathetic nervous system.
- If your body is not warmed up enough.
As always, please remember to work within the range of your own abilities and limitations; Approach the posture cautiously and respectfully; And seek guidance of an experienced and trained Yoga teacher to begin your practice.