Bow
DHANURĀSANA (धनुरासन)
(DAH-noo-RAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Dhanura’= Bow, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Upward Wheel Pose (Urdhva Chakrasana)

 

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Pose Type: Back-Bend / Stretch / Prone / Hip Opener

1. Lay on your belly in prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana), with your arms by your sides, palms down, and your forehead on the mat.
2. Keep your knees hip distance apart and start to bend your knees to bring your heels over your buttock.
3. Reach back to grab the outside of your ankles as you engage your abdomen and back muscles to lift your head, chest, shoulders, and thighs off the mat.
4. Point your toes to extend your leg muscles. Alternatively, you can flex your feet if you would like to engage Pada Bandha and stabilize the knees.
5. Lengthen your spine, and draw your shoulder blades together, as you start to stretch and reach toward the sky. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
6. Continue to stretch until your upper thighs and chest are off the mat and your pelvis is rooted to the mat. Focus on raising your chest and thighs as high as is comfortable and balance yourself.
7. Gaze forward, breathing deeply into your chest and diaphragm. Keep your neck relaxed and continue to stretch up toward the sky.
8. Hold this posture for several breaths (at least 20 seconds to build strength).
9. When ready, release your ankles to slowly and gently bring your chest, arms, and legs back down to rest on the mat and back into prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck strained
• Gazing too far up
• Chest not lifted and open
• Shoulders rolling forward
• Shoulder blades not flat and drawn together
• Lower back compressed
• Spine not lengthened
• Legs too close together
• Legs too far apart (slightly farther out than hip distance is fine)
• Feet not engaged (either pointed or flexed)
• Shaking or unbalance

Modifications
• Students with severe back, shoulder, wrist, and knee injuries should practice Locust Pose (Salabhasana) as it is easier on these areas of the body.
• To put less stress on the hips and knees, place a folded blanket or bolster under the knees.
• Students with knee discomfort should be sure to grab the ankles and not the feet. This puts less stress on the knees.
• Students with tight shoulders or want to gain flexibility and/or strength, can place a strap around the front of the ankles to pull themselves up. Alternatively, they can also practice Half Bow Pose (Ardha Dhanurasana) or One-Legged Bow Pose (Eka Pada Dhanurasana).
• For students whose hips hurt in this posture, place a pillow under the hips or a folded blanket over the mat. Alternatively, students can practice at home on a mattress.
• Students who would like to increase their shoulder stretch, and get more of an expansion across the chest, can place their palms on the arches of their feet and line up their thumbs with their big toes.

Counter Poses
• Plow (Halasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana) or Extended Child’s Pose (Utthita Balasana)
• Rabbit / Hare (Sasangasana)
• Crocodile (Makarasana)
• Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing Big Toe (Padangusthasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) or Shoulder Stand, Supported (Salamba Sarvangasana)
• Corpse (Savasana) or Reverse Corpse (Advasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoid)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Biceps and Triceps
• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Hips (Iliopsoas)• Gluteus Maximus
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles
• Knees• Ankles

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the neck, shoulders, chest, back, spinal cord, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, ankles, and feet. It also increases flexibility in the back.
• Improves body alignment and posture which helps to keep the spines natural curve and tones the leg and arm muscles.
• Opens the chest, neck / throat, and shoulders and strengthens the lungs, which helps with asthma or respiratory problems.
• Relieves / reduces stress, headaches, mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue. It also helps sooth menstrual discomfort and constipation.
• Improves the function of organs like the stomach, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen and pancreas which stimulates and balances the nervous system. It also aids in digestion and energizes the body.

Contraindications
1. During pregnancy, it is better to avoid this posture after the first trimester, as it can cause stress to the abdomen, which then can cause tightness in the legs and lower back.
2. Students who have low or high blood pressure, a severe neck injury (like spondylitis), acute lower back injury, severe back pain, stomach ulcers, a hernia, recent abdominal surgery, constipation, diarrhea, or are in their menstrual cycle, should avoid this pose due to pressure on the core and abdomen.
3. Students with shoulder or knee concerns (injury or pain) should avoid this pose, unless proper props are available for use to do modifications.
4. Students with a migraine or insomnia should avoid this pose or practice with modifications.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two: Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Dhanurasana – Bow Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Dhanurasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 12 – PRONE POSES as “DHANURASANA – Bow Pose”.

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