Dhanurasana, Self Esteem Pose with Spine Into a Bow 

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles

Dhanurasana or Bow pose is named so,

due to its semblance in appearance

to the traditional hunting and war weapon,

the archer’s bow or simply put

the bow and the arrow.

The length of the body arched 

backward forms the body of the bow,

the arms forming the string,

connecting the two extreme ends of the bow’s body

toward each other: the feet and the shoulders.

The posterior length of the body is contracted here as the anterior side receives an intense stretch.  The angle at which the spine is stretched and impacted in Dhanurasana is very different from how all the other back bending asanas work on it. This has a more intense impact on its ability as a mood elevator.

Dhanurasana combines and enhances the benefits of both Locust pose and the Bhujangasana or  Cobra pose. The three are practiced in a series as these impart most of the benefits of all the other back bending asanas put together.

 This pose is one of the basic classical Yoga poses without which any Yoga class, focusing on backbends, would remain incomplete. In order to drive maximum benefits from Dhanurasana do learn about yoga asana and how should it be done the right way.

Preparatory Postures for Dhanurasana

How to do Dhanurasana 

  1. Lie down  on the mat in prone – abdomen on the mat – position, chin on the mat,  legs are kept together and hands rest beside the hips with palms facing down
  2. Take a deep inhalation and move the heels toward the buttocks by bending the knees as far as possible, keep the knees together, Take some normal breaths
  3. Reach out to the respective ankles with both hands and grab them firmly from the outside, keep the feet relaxed
  4. Take a deep inhalation, tense up the legs and push them away from the body against the resistance of the arms holding on to the ankles, Simultaneously lift the head, chest, and thighs off the mat, Keep the elbows straight, arch backward as much as possible, shoulder blades pushes backward and toward each other
  5. Only the legs remain tensed, the back, arms and the chest remain relaxed, The entire weight of the body is balanced on the abdomen, more specifically the naval region, lift the sternum – chest – higher, tilt the head backward, the chin is pointed upwards
  6. The main effort is to straighten the knees to the maximum possible; this will lift the legs higher and deepen the arch in the back, breathe normally while holding the final posture, initially try to hold this position for 10 to 15 secs
  7. For coming out of the pose, relax and release the ankles, lower the legs, chest and the head on the mat while exhaling, get into Makarasana and relax till the breath becomes normal

This is one round

Breathing Pattern & duration

In case of dynamic variation ( Breath coordinated rhythmically with every movement )

While getting into Dhanurasana, Inhale and lift the torso and legs up to a count of 3 seconds, retain the breath for 6 seconds, return to starting position exhaling for 3 seconds, suspend for 3 seconds. This is one round

For therapeutic purpose do 8 rounds – with the above-mentioned pattern – in 2 minutes

 In case of Static variation 

Inhale while lifting the torso and legs in the beginning. Breathe normally, slow and rhythmically in the final pose of Dhanurasana for not more than 2 minutes. Exhale while releasing the pose back to the starting position.

One can safely practice 3 – 5 rounds of Dhanurasana ( Bow pose ) in a single go.

Alignment Essentials and Modifications – Dhanurasana

The below-listed alignment tips will help with extracting the maximum possible benefits from practicing Dhanurasana.

  • Do not strain at the arms; this will fatigue the arms and the chest
  • Mentally focus on the back instead of the arms; this shift the strain as well accordingly
  • Tighten the hips, this will help lift he thighs higher
  • Breathe softly, not normal deep breathing,  as deep breathing is naturally restricted by this pose
  • The arms should be kept straight without bending the elbows
  • Keep the feet pointed upward, keeping apart at the toes, and the knees are kept together
  • The chin must be pointed upwards keeping the front of the neck and the jawline stretched
  • Push the chest out and draw the shoulders backward
  • Focus the eyes in the upward direction, as high as the flexibility of the muscles of the neck can provide for

Also adhere to the general principles of alignment in yoga and the significance of action, attitude, and alignment in yoga asana practice. 

Common Faults – Dhanurasana

  • Elbows are bent and the arms are strained
  • Feet are not actively pushing back and up
  • Head and the chin are not pointing up
  • The hands are holding the feet instead of the ankles
  • Thighs are on the mat, only the upper body is lifted

Follow up poses  – Dhanurasana – Bow Pose

  • Urdhva Dhanurasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Ustarasana
  • Halasana
  • Paschimottanasana

Contraindications – When not to do Dhanurasana

One must not attempt Dhanurasana in case any of the below conditions are present

  • In case of lower back pain, approach the pose in a slow and phased manner
  • Heart ailment
  • Circulatory problems
  • Hypertension ( but can be done after the issue is resolved by other means)
  • A hernia
  • Stomach ulcers and inflammation ( peptic & duodenal ulcers)
  • Colitis
  • Lower back or neck injury
  • A migraine
  • Insomnia

Advantages- Benefits of doing Dhanurasana – Bow Pose 

Dhanurasana or bow pose has multipronged benefits on the overall health. Below are listed some of the more common advantages a consistent practice of this pose can impart to the practitioner.

  • Elevates mood and fights depression, and forms an essential part of yoga for curing depression program
  • Controls stress due to its action on the Adrenal glands
  • Removes strain, if any, in the spine along with toning it, improving the stress managing capacity of the body
  • Builds confidence and makes the expression of creativity more fluent
  • Guns up the mental stamina
  • Boosts blood circulation over the entire body, especially the venous drainage of the lower abdomen and sex organs
  • Helps improve conditions like Asthma as it works on the expansion and contraction of the intercostal muscles, increasing the lung capacity along with it
  • Helps manage Diabetes, and always forms the part of the curriculum for management of diabetes with Yoga
  • Alleviates all problems related to the digestive system
  • Controls issues of the Urogenital system, incontinence, and pelvic related female issue, it tones the pelvic muscles
  • Improves posture, especially the upper back  – Dowager’s hump
  • Reverses sagging of the breast in women
  • Tones hips, arms, and legs
  • Positively impacts the thymus gland, reinvigorating the immune system
  • Positively works on Thyroid and Parathyroid glands and related processes
  • The pressure on the Jawline  enervates the acupressure points therein, these help on looking young, dhanurasana is always included in the yoga which is good for jawline
  • Removes Stretch marks, forms an irreplaceable technique under the Yoga for removing stretch marks 
  • Removes fat, especially from the abdominal area ( Rocking version)
  • Sweetens the voice by working on the vocal cords
  • Revs up the physical stamina when practiced as a tool of Yoga poses for improving the physical stamina
  • It removes Tamas or dullness and rejuvenates the entire body
  • Improves conditions like dyspepsia, constipation and sluggish liver, it is a very potent technique when used with the yoga for a healthy liver
  • Improves Cervical spondylitis if done under special guidance, yoga curriculum for cervical spondylitis is incomplete without this asanas

The Bhava ( attitude) which Dhanurasana comes under

Dhanurasana comes under Aisvarya bhava; it generates the feeling of strength, courage, enhanced self-esteem, and self-actualization.

Dhanurasana – The Mind should be on:-

While doing Dhanurasana the attention or the Mind should be on the abdominal region ( heaving due to slow, deep, rhythmic breathing) and the back.