Bow Pose (Dhanurasana): How to Do, Benefits and Precautions

bow pose

Sanskrit PronunciationDhan-your-AHS-anah(Dhanurasana)
MeaningDhanu - Bow
Asana - Pose
Pose TypeProne, back-bend
Pose LevelIntermediate, hold for 10-30 seconds
Beneficial InStrength and flexibility of the back and core

Bow pose is an intermediate level back-bending pose, that helps in developing core and stretches out the entire back, especially the lower back. This asana is an excellent exercise to increase the strength and flexibility of the back. It stimulates Manipura Chakra and reduces Kapha Dosha.

Dhanurasana mainly focuses on the following muscles.

  • Arms and shoulders
  • Chest and neck
  • Back and core
  • Hamstrings and Hips
  • Knees and thighs

This asana is especially helpful for those who stand or sit for a prolonged time. This pose is a great way for them to soothe and stretch their back and legs, after such a long period of hunching over.

The Bow Pose is the 8th pose among the 12 basic Hatha Yoga Poses. It is also a preparatory pose for many intense and deeper backbend practices.

Like many other Yoga Asanas, the reason behind naming it Bow Pose is the shape of the body while performing it. When you perform Dhanurasana/Bow Pose, your body looks like an archer’s bow. Your torso and legs look like the body of the bow, and your arms resemble the string of the bow.

Now, let’s see how you can perform this asana.

How to Perform Dhanurasana?

bow pose instructions

In this posture, the practitioner lies at his/her stomach and then bends the knees. After that, the practitioner stretches his/her arms to hold the ankles of the feet. Here are the detailed steps to perform this asana easily.

Preparing the Asana

  • Lie down flat on the yoga mat on your belly.
  • Place your hands by the sides, palms facing upwards.

Take 2-3 deep breaths here.

Getting into the Asana

  • Exhale and bend your keens and stretch them close towards your buttocks.
  • Stretch your arms behind and grab your ankles with each hand from sides.

Note- Keep your knees wider up to the width of your hips.

  • With an inhalation, stretch your feet, lifting your heels away from your buttocks and lift your thighs away from the floor.
  • Simultaneously, lift your head and chest, off the mat. As you lift, move your shoulders firmly against your back.
  • Keep your spine soft and draw your tailbone towards the floor.

Here you will be balancing your body weight on your core. Stretch your feet, toes pointing upwards. If you don’t wanna stretch your feet, you can keep them normal, soles facing upwards.

  • Now, breathe deeply and focus on breathing. Feel the flow of prana throughout your body and hold the position for 10-30 seconds.

Releasing the Asana

  • Take a long, slow and deep breath. Then, with an exhalation, slowly bring your body down.
  • Then, release the grip of hands, straighten the legs and lay down on the floor.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths and relax.

This is one round of Dhanurasana. You can perform it upto 2-3 rounds, depending on your comfort.

In the beginning, you might feel shivering and vibrations in your body. Do not panic if it happens. It is totally normal and with practice, the shivering will get decreased gradually.

Props and Modification

  • You can place a folded blanket under your pelvis and core, for extra support.
  • If you can’t hold your ankles then use a yoga strap as a prop to help you in holding the posture. Wrap the strap at the front of your ankles and then hold the strap to hold the pose.
  • Keep your arms fully strengthened while holding the posture. You can also deepen the pose with your thighs, calves and inner feet touching.

Variations of Dhanurasana

  • Parshva Dhanurasana

It is also known as Side Bow Pose. In this yogic practice, the procedure is as same as Dhanurasana. While after the formation of the bow pose, exhale and turn your body right side stretch your arms backward and pull out your chest outward.

Again come back on your belly with an inhale and now move your body to the left side. Perform this asana for an equal duration of time on each side.

  • Urdhava Dhanurasana

This yogic practice is one of the advanced levels of back bending exercise. It is also named the Wheel Pose and has characterized for beginners. It opens hips, chest, and shoulders. While doing this posture you need to lie on your back.

Bend your arms and place your hands near your ears and then bend your knees and place your feet near your buttocks and now raise your body upward.

In this manner, your body will form a wheel shape and this is how you will complete your Urdhava Dhanurasana.

Precautions for Bow Pose

  • Grab the feet from the ankles. Do not grab them from their tops as it can lead you to slip the grip and lose the balance.
  • Do not spread the legs widely. Keep them hip-width apart or closer.
  • As this asana requires pressure on the abdominal region, perform this asana only on an empty stomach or after 4-6 hours of having a meal.
  • While holding Bow Pose, pressure on the abdomen can cause difficulty in breathing but, do not hold the breaths. Try to maintain a proper flow of breathing during this whole exercise.
  • Do not overstretch your body. Understand the flexibility of your body and stretch it accordingly.
  • Do not perform this asana in a hurry. Perform it quietly and slowly, with a calm mind.

Contraindications of Bow Pose

  • Heart patients and patients of low & high blood pressure must avoid this asana. As this asana puts a lot of pressure on the abdomen, it affects the breathing and can fluctuate the flow of blood to the brain. So, performing this asana in such conditions can show adverse effects.
  • People having a severe or recent injury on the lower back, core, thighs, knees, and shoulders should avoid this asana. As Dhanurasana mainly focuses on these muscles, performing it during such injuries can be harmful.
  • As this asana puts pressure on the abdomen muscles, so. any person suffering from abdominal ailments such as appendicitis, hernia, etc. should avoid this.
  • Bow pose stretches the muscles of the spine and back, so, people having severe backaches and sciatica must consult an experienced Yoga trainer, before doing this asana.
  • As it puts bodyweight on the abdomen, so performing it during pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus and practitioner both. So, do not perform it during pregnancy.

Health Benefits of Bow Pose

Dhanurasana is a good yogic posture for losing weight and also helps in curing lower back problems. This pose gives an intense stretch to the abdomen, back, thigs, knees, shoulder & arms and increases the flexibility and strength of the body.

Here are some benefits of Dhanurasana.

  • It works on the abdominal part of the body and stretches the muscles of the abdomen that helps to burn extra fat of the body. This yogic posture also helps you to provide a good body shape.
  • This practice directly works over Manipura Chakra /Solar Plexus Chakra (located just above the Naval). This will helps in removing Lethargy.
  • Bow Pose gives massage to the abdominal organs thus helps in the proper functioning of the pancreas. It ensures the secretion of glucose and insulin in absolute about. It will be beneficial in both kinds of diabetes Type1 and Type2.
  • This asana gives a good stretch to the ligaments, muscles, and bones located in the back. This is how it helps in curing back pain. Also, it stretches the muscles of the spine and neck providing a healthy spine and good posture.
  • Dhanurasana strengthens your shoulders, arms, abdomen, chest & neck and improves their flexibility.
  • This asana tones and stretches the muscles around the hamstrings, calves, and knees. Thus, it makes them strong and removes their stiffness. Therefore, it is very beneficial for athletes.
  • Bow Pose soothes and tones the muscles of the pelvis floor, including reproductive organs. Thus it helps women in menstruation disorders.
  • This asana helps in locating the dislocated naval. Sets the Naval and helps in curing constipation or stomach pain caused by dislocation of the naval.

Preparatory Asanas of Bow Pose

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Salbhasana (Locust Pose)
  • Virasana (Hero Pose)

Follow-up Asanas of Bow Pose

Bow Pose FAQs

Bow pose/Dhanurasana is an intermediate level, back-bending prone pose. It strengthens the lower back and core muscles. Learn more about Bow pose/Dhanurasana here.

  1. Can you explain the breathing process in Bow Pose?

    In Bow Pose, one has to exhale and then inhale deeply while raising your body up. One has to breathe in and breathe out slowly while he/she maintains the pose. While, coming to the starting position, one has to take exhale deeply.

  2. Can I perform Bow Pose/Dhanurasana just before going to bed?

    No, you should not perform Bow Pose/Dhanurasana just before going to bed.
    This asana stimulates the adrenal gland. This gland makes a hormone, cortisol, that is known to keep you awake and wake you up in the morning.
    If you perform Bow Pose before going to bed, the rise in cortisol wouldn't let you sleep properly. So, do not perform this asana before going to bed.

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