Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose, resembles an archer’s bow: the arms are the string linking the torso and legs into a bow. Like an archer’s bow, this pose may look intimidating, but with practice it empowers us to be vulnerable and conquer our fears.
This pose is a great way for us to release stress and counter the effects of slouching/poor posture.
Start lying on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and arms in front of you, take a deep inhale, extending and expanding your body. From there, exhale to bend your knees and reach your arms back to hold your ankles or lower legs (start with your thumbs facing down and holding around the outside of your ankles, as you advance, grab your inner ankles with your thumbs facing up, externally rotating your shoulders).
Inhale, reaching your sternum forward, lifting your chest off the ground, and slide your shoulder blades towards each other and down your back while pulling your legs up and back into your hands, “stringing the bow.” Exhale, press your ankles into your hands, and keep engaging the inner thighs to keep your knees and feet hip-width apart.
It's better to have your legs together versus legs wider than your hips. If breathing is difficult, lower the body closer to the ground. If it is possible and you are breathing easily, lift higher with your legs and chest, keeping the pubic bone rooted toward the floor to avoid strain on your lower back.
Continue to take deep breaths for 10-20 seconds with your head in line with the spine. Exhale, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground. Slowly release the ankles and relax via windshield wiping the legs, or sitting back into Child’s Pose.
This pose should be avoided if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, a neck injury, pain in the lower back, hernia, migraine, heart disease, and/or had recent abdominal surgery.
With that said, here are some of the holistic benefits of Bow Pose:
Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Bow Pose massages the adrenal glands, two triangular-shaped organs located on top of each kidney. It makes sense that taking care of glands that regulate the stress response and hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, would benefit the mind and body.
Additionally, reducing anxiety and stress has been linked to improved concentration and mental determination.
Bow Pose utilizes the entire body by strengthening the muscles in the back, abdomen, arms, and legs and stretching the throat, chest, arms, abdomen, hips, groin, thighs, and ankles.
Flexion of the spine activates spinal nerves, increases circulation, and strengthens the entire length of the spine. Toning the muscles and cultivating a supple, healthy spine improves internal balance and harmony in the body, which improves posture.
Bow Pose is exceptionally beneficial for the respiratory system. Opening the rib cage allows the lungs to expand more fully, relieving breathing problems and ailments, such as asthma and bronchitis.
The pose expands the chest cavity and opens the diaphragm as well as shoulder joints to improve respiratory conditions and reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Furthermore, increased circulation promotes blood flow, oxygen intake, and release of carbon dioxide, which reduces anxiety and stress.
Regulates the Body and Keeps Things Running Smoothly
Bow Pose heats and strengthens the entire body and kick starts the thyroid and thymus glands, which reduce belly fat. It may also help regulate diabetes, as it tones the pancreas which secretes glucagon and insulin to balance sugar in the blood.
Also shown to relieve menstrual discomfort, Bow Pose aids digestion and constipation by massaging and improving the function of the large and small intestine, liver, kidneys, and spleen. Finally, it eases stomach tightness and increases blood flow and oxygen to aid in elimination.
Stimulates Manipura Chakra
Bow Pose connects to the solar plexus, a complex part of the sympathetic nervous system that radiates from the pit of the stomach, at the navel region.
The solar plexus chakra, or manipura charka, is the center of willpower and linked to empowerment, self-esteem, confidence, responsibility, and reliability. It is the seat of the digestive fire, regulating the pancreas and digestive organs. This pose can be triggering for individuals with a fear of vulnerability and trauma history or other stressors.
A healthy manipura chakra is associated with the ability to move forward confidently and make conscious choices to act, versus mindlessly reacting.
Like an archer’s bow, we practice Bow Pose to be strong and supple so our manifestations can release into the universe and soar with ease and intention to our targets.
We would love to know what benefits you have found from Bow Pose. Please share with us below!