The Bow Pose or Dhanurasana is a prone backbend yoga pose, that is, it is performed lying on the stomach. In this pose, the arms are like the string of a bow, pulled tight by the strength of the body and legs. It is an energizing that promotes flexibility and strengthens the back and arms.
The Sanskrit word Dhanurasana is a combined word that means:
dhanu = bow
asana = pose
The Bow Pose must be attempted only after you are comfortable with doing the Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana, Half Locust and Full Locust Poses and Reclining Hero Pose. It must not be performed if you have high blood pressure.
Performing backbends help warm the system, increase energy and invigorate us. They increase determination and will power. They help in opening the chest promoting better breathing and expanding the heart center.
Benefits of the Bow Pose or Dhanurasana
The Bow Pose has similar benefits to other backbends such as:
- massages the abdominal organs
- improves digestion
- stimulates the thyroid
- opens the chest
- strengthens the back and arms
- tones the thighs and buttocks
- stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs, groins and deep hip flexors (psoas)
- improves posture
- makes the spine flexible
- helps relieve backache
- reduces constipation
- energizes and improves circulation reducing fatigue
This is a strenuous pose even for seasoned practitioners and is one of the ancient poses which have been part of hatha yoga for centuries.
Tips to do the Bow Pose and a Variation
How to do the Bow Pose or Dhanurasana
The Bow Pose is beneficial if you are suffering from constipation and indigestion since it massages the digestive organs and encourages elimination. It tones the pancreas and is recommended for those suffering from diabetes. It increases vitality in the pelvic area, hence it is beneficial for relieving menstrual disorders or hormonal imbalances.The steps to the achieving the final position are as follows:
- Lie on your stomach with your chin resting on the floor and legs slightly apart.
- Bend both knees, bring the heels towards the buttocks
- reach back with your hands and grasp the ankles or loop a strap around your ankles.
- If you cannot grasp both ankles at the same time, do it one at a time
- exhale and press your pubic bone down by engaging the abdominal muscles
- inhale and slowly raise your head, feet, knees and thighs.
- Thighs remain parallel and knees should be kept hip distance apart
- Feel the shoulder blades squeezing together
- gently rock back and forth without pulling or straining. Breathe
- the weight of the body should rest on the abdomen only
- hold for 10-15 breaths
- Exhale, release your hands. Slowly lower and straighten your legs
Counterpose: Relax in Child Pose or balasana
Regular practice of backbends are helpful in counteracting the forward bending, walking around and sitting at desks throughout the day. They help to energize and improve circulation in the whole body and also help in spinal alignment.
Another backbend yoga pose that can be included into the yoga routine are the Camel Yoga Pose or Ustrasana. Being a strenuous yoga pose the Bow Pose must be performed after doing some preparatory poses such as the Locust Pose, Reclining Hero Pose and the Crescent Moon Pose or Anjaneyasana.
Resources for Strengthening the Back
- How to Perform the Yoga Chair Pose
The chair pose helps to strengthen the back, legs, thighs and hips, increase heat in the body and improves balance. Find out how to benefit from doing three different versions of this standing pose.
- Half Forward Bend, Ardha Uttanasana Yoga Pose
This pose helps to strengthen the back and relax the neck muscles which is the region of tension because it has to support the head in an upright position. Find out how to stretch and strengthen them.
- How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings with ...
Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause many injuries, poor posture, inhibit movement, and back pain? Learn how to loosen your hamstrings with yoga and improve performance in sports and daily life.
- Yoga Poses for Hips
The hips and buttocks bear the weight or the human body and determine its balance. It is important to strengthen and ensure good muscle tone for easy movement and flexibility in daily life. Learn about some of the yoga poses that can benefit the hip
Sushma Webber (author) from New Zealand on April 01, 2014:
Thanks 101Ways2Life, you are right, this is one of my favorites too. I always feel I have accomplished something when I do it!
Alana Niall from Christchurch, New Zealand on April 01, 2014:
Hi Sushma, Dhanurasan is one of my favourite positions. I find it every effective in fighting my lower back pain. Thanks for sharing.
Sushma Webber (author) from New Zealand on October 11, 2013:
Hi Radhika, yes doing yoga poses was easier when we were kids. I too find some of the poses take time to achieve. Thanks for your comment.
Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on October 11, 2013:
I used to do Dhanurasan during my childhood as body is more flexible during that time. But now, I get suffocated at the time itself when I raise legs lying on the stomach. Thanks for sharing the benefits of this Yoga.
Sushma Webber (author) from New Zealand on April 29, 2013:
Hi prettynutjob30, glad to know you enjoy doing this pose. I too enjoy doing it and yes my legs don't go up very high either! Practice, practice, practice! Thanks for voting up and sharing it.
Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on April 29, 2013:
Great hub, voted up, more and shared, I love yoga, this pose feels so good but I can't get my legs up very high behind me yet. Still got progress I need to make but I am getting there.