Dhanurasana or Bow Pose is one of my favorite heart openers because it is so very beneficial for the whole body. This pose can look a little intimidating at first glance, and may make you feel like you have to have super human flexibility in order to reap the benefits it offers.
The truth is, no matter how deep you are able to go in this particular pose, it is going to offer your body amazing opening, amazing strength building, and maybe even a little massage. Here are my top five favorite reasons to practice Bow Pose.
1. Opens the Shoulders
Bow Pose is my absolute favorite for anyone who is struggling with really tight shoulders. As you are well aware, most of us spend a large portion of our days sitting with our shoulders hunched forward—while we drive, while we sit on the bus, while we work at our computers, while we look at our phones.
All this hunching over can cause some seriously tight shoulder girdle muscles and some overly stretched upper back muscles. Bow will help reverse this hunching and help invite some gentle yet powerful opening for the shoulders if practiced on a regular basis.
2. Opens the Chest
Along with tight shoulders, having a tight chest is another epidemic in our society. Thankfully, Bow Pose can open you up all the way from the tips of your shoulders down to your hips, which means your entire chest is going to be reaping the rewards of the opening this pose provides.
You may even find that you have an easier time breathing when you practice this pose on a regular basis, and give yourself some time to really hang out in the pose.
3. Opens the Hip Flexors
Low Lunge is what most people think of when looking for a pose to help open the hip flexors, and I would not disagree that this pose is an excellent choice—but I also feel that Bow should be included near the top of the list of best poses for stretching the front of your hips.
The added benefit of practicing Bow Pose as a hip opener is that you get to open both hips at the same time.
4. Strengthens the Upper Back
While you are in your Bow, it can be very tempting to get all your ‘lift’ by kicking your legs back with all your might, and holding on to them for dear life with your hands.
However, if you are to practice this pose with a balance between engaging your legs and engaging your upper back muscles to get your chest off the ground, you will be working to correct any hyper-openness that may be going on in your upper back.
As discussed in the first point, because many of us hunch forward all day, we have overly tight chests and overly open and therefore weak upper backs. This pose, when practiced with care and attention, can help create new strength in your upper back, which can mitigate back pain and neck pain as well.
5. Massages the Digestive Organs
Finally, when you hang out and breathe in Bow Pose for a while, you will encourage a gentle massaging of your internal organs.
This can help to facilitate digestion, move stuck wastes through the digestive system, and will generally feel pretty nice. Rocking slightly forward towards your chest on your exhales, and then allowing your inhales to rock you back towards your hips, is one of the best self-massage techniques I know.
Do you practice this pose often? What benefits do you notice when you do?