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Bow Pose, Dhanurasana

Updated on April 29, 2013

The Bow Pose or Dhanurasana is a prone backbend yoga pose, that is, it is performed lying on the stomach. In this pose, the arms are like the string of a bow, pulled tight by the strength of the body and legs. It is an energizing that promotes flexibility and strengthens the back and arms.

The Sanskrit word Dhanurasana is a combined word that means:

dhanu = bow
asana = pose

The Bow Pose must be attempted only after you are comfortable with doing the Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana, Half Locust and Full Locust Poses and Reclining Hero Pose. It must not be performed if you have high blood pressure.

Performing backbends help warm the system, increase energy and invigorate us. They increase determination and will power. They help in opening the chest promoting better breathing and expanding the heart center.

Benefits of the Bow Pose or Dhanurasana

The Bow Pose has similar benefits to other backbends such as:

  • massages the abdominal organs
  • improves digestion
  • stimulates the thyroid
  • opens the chest
  • strengthens the back and arms
  • tones the thighs and buttocks
  • stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs, groins and deep hip flexors (psoas)
  • improves posture
  • makes the spine flexible
  • helps relieve backache
  • reduces constipation
  • energizes and improves circulation reducing fatigue

This is a strenuous pose even for seasoned practitioners and is one of the ancient poses which have been part of hatha yoga for centuries.

Tips to do the Bow Pose and a Variation

How to do the Bow Pose or Dhanurasana

The Bow Pose is beneficial if you are suffering from constipation and indigestion since it massages the digestive organs and encourages elimination. It tones the pancreas and is recommended for those suffering from diabetes. It increases vitality in the pelvic area, hence it is beneficial for relieving menstrual disorders or hormonal imbalances.The steps to the achieving the final position are as follows:

  • Lie on your stomach with your chin resting on the floor and legs slightly apart.
  • Bend both knees, bring the heels towards the buttocks
  • reach back with your hands and grasp the ankles or loop a strap around your ankles.
  • If you cannot grasp both ankles at the same time, do it one at a time
  • exhale and press your pubic bone down by engaging the abdominal muscles
  • inhale and slowly raise your head, feet, knees and thighs.
  • Thighs remain parallel and knees should be kept hip distance apart
  • Feel the shoulder blades squeezing together
  • gently rock back and forth without pulling or straining. Breathe
  • the weight of the body should rest on the abdomen only
  • hold for 10-15 breaths
  • Exhale, release your hands. Slowly lower and straighten your legs

Counterpose: Relax in Child Pose or balasana

Regular practice of backbends are helpful in counteracting the forward bending, walking around and sitting at desks throughout the day. They help to energize and improve circulation in the whole body and also help in spinal alignment.

Another backbend yoga pose that can be included into the yoga routine are the Camel Yoga Pose or Ustrasana. Being a strenuous yoga pose the Bow Pose must be performed after doing some preparatory poses such as the Locust Pose, Reclining Hero Pose and the Crescent Moon Pose or Anjaneyasana.


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    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks 101Ways2Life, you are right, this is one of my favorites too. I always feel I have accomplished something when I do it!

    • 101Ways2Life profile image

      Alana Niall 3 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Hi Sushma, Dhanurasan is one of my favourite positions. I find it every effective in fighting my lower back pain. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Radhika, yes doing yoga poses was easier when we were kids. I too find some of the poses take time to achieve. Thanks for your comment.

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      I used to do Dhanurasan during my childhood as body is more flexible during that time. But now, I get suffocated at the time itself when I raise legs lying on the stomach. Thanks for sharing the benefits of this Yoga.

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi prettynutjob30, glad to know you enjoy doing this pose. I too enjoy doing it and yes my legs don't go up very high either! Practice, practice, practice! Thanks for voting up and sharing it.

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      Great hub, voted up, more and shared, I love yoga, this pose feels so good but I can't get my legs up very high behind me yet. Still got progress I need to make but I am getting there.