The Bow is a backward bending exercise which raises both halves of the body at the same time. When the Bow or Dhanurasana is performed, the body is bent to give the appearance of a bow. The stretched (straight) arms resemble the bowstring. This Asana gives the combined effect of the Cobra and Locust Poses. These three exercises should always be done together, forming a valuable set of backward bending exercises. The Bow acts as a counterpose to Haalasana (Plough) and Paschimotanasana (Forward Bend). It is a full backward bend to complement these two forward bending exercises.
Note: this Asana should not be practiced by pregnant women.
How to do Dhanurasana
Coming into the position
- Lying on the abdomen, bring the forehead to the floor. Bend he knees and catch hold of the ankles. The knees may be allowed to separate.
- Inhale, raising the head, chest and thighs of the ground as high as possible. Keep the elbows straight and the head back. The whole body will be resting on the abdomen. Try to straighten the knees as much as possible. This will have the effect of bringing the legs higher off the ground, giving a complete arch to the back. The chest will be opened and stretched backwards.
Holding the position
Hold the position for at least 3 deep breaths. Come down and repeat the exercise 3-5 times. On the last, try to do the “Rocking Bow”.
Coming out of the position
Lower the head, chest and thighs to the ground. Release the ankles, lower the legs to the ground. Turn the head to the side and rest the cheek on the hands.
The Rocking Bow
Staying up in the Bow, rock back and forth on the abdomen. Keep the head back and use the breath. Inhale as you rock back and exhale as you rock forward.
Benefits of The Bow
- The Bow works on the entire spine. Flexibility is brought to all regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral.
- All the internal organs, especially the digestive organs are massaged and invigorated. The large and small intestine as well as the liver and spleen are benefitted. Fat is removed. The Bow relieves congestion of blood in the abdominal viscera and tones them.
- This Asana is useful in aiding chronic constipation, dyspepsia, the sluggishness of the liver and gastro- intestinal disorders.
- The Bow is specially recommended for people with diabetes, as it helps to regulate the pancreas.
- The abdominal muscles are strengthened.
- Women specially benefit from the Bow.
- The thoracic region is expanded, a boon to persons suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma.
- It helps hunchback, rheumatism of the legs, knee-joints and hands.
- The Bow gives a deep massage to the back muscles.
- Like Haalasana (the Plough), The Bow keeps the spine elastic.
- Ossification of the bone is prevented.
- He who does Haalasana (Plough), Mayurasana (Peacock) and Dhanurasana (Bow) can never become lazy. He will always be full of energy, vigour and vitality.
- Do not hold the top of the feet. Hold the ankles.
- Elbow should be straight (like the taut string of a bow).
- Ensure that you are not lifting only the upper part of the body and pulling back rather than arching up.
- The head should be up, not forward.
- Do not permit the body to twist to one side.