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Dhanurasana is an intermediate-level back-bending yoga pose. It is a dynamic and invigorating posture that enriches the mind, body, and spirit. In delving into this pose, we unravel its profound meaning, spiritual significance, meticulous steps, and the extensive array of benefits it bestows upon practitioners. This exploration goes beyond the physical execution, delving into the symbolic representation of a bow, the archer’s pose, and its connection to inner strength. Step by step, we navigate through the intricacies of assuming the bow pose, emphasizing proper alignment and breath synchronization. Unveiling the physical, mental, and emotional advantages, we discover how this yoga pose improves balance, flexibility, and a harmonious union of mind and body.

Let us embark on this comprehensive journey into Dhanurasana’s multifaceted dimensions.

Dhanurasana Information

Pose NameDhanurasana
Sanksrit Nameधनुरासन
International Alphabets of Sanskrit Transcription
English NameBow Pose
OriginMedieval Yoga Period
TypeBack Bending
Bow Pose Information

Dhanurasana History

Gheranda Samhita verse 2.8 states:

Spread the legs like stick on the ground. Catch hold of the feet with hands. Bend the body like a bow. Yogis call this Bow Pose.

Gheranda Samhita 2.18.

This Yoga Pose has a rich historical foundation found in medieval yoga texts such as the Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. While these ancient texts provide insights into the posture, variations exist, creating a fascinating historical discourse.

The Gheranda Samhita provides a detailed explanation of this posture, which begins in a lying position and progresses to a backbend resembling a bow. This differs from the seated depiction in the Hatha Ratnavali, known as Akarana Dhanurasana or Karmukasana. Akarana Dhanurasana imitates a bow and arrow, performed while seated with the hands holding onto the big toes and stretching towards the ear.

The term Karmuka in Sanskrit signifies a Bow, leading to diverse interpretations. Some associate Akarshana Dhanurasana with Karmukasana, while others present an alternative, the lotus pose-based version.

In contemporary yoga, Dhanurasana aligns closely with Gheranda Samhita’s rendition, emphasizing the starting position from the prone lying position. This historical perspective adds depth to the evolution of the Bow Pose, recognizing the diversity within ancient texts and its interpretation in the modern yogic context.

Dhanurasana Meaning

Dhanurasana derives its name from the amalgamation of two Sanskrit terms – Dhanur, meaning bow, and Asana, signifying a yoga position. Consequently, it earns its English moniker, the Bow Pose. The final manifestation of this posture strikingly mirrors the shape of a bow, justifying its appellation. The practitioner assumes a position akin to a taut bowstring, with the body forming an elegant curve reminiscent of an archer’s bow. This nomenclature not only encapsulates the pose’s physical manifestation but also evokes the symbolic strength and poise associated with the graceful yet powerful bow, enriching the practice with deeper meaning.

Bow Pose Procedure

Safety and Precautions

This dynamic yoga posture has numerous benefits, but it comes with certain precautions and contraindications that individuals should be aware of before attempting the pose:

Spine issues

People who have severe back problems, such as herniated discs or recent spinal surgeries, should refrain from practicing this yoga pose. Individuals who have experienced spinal injuries in the past should seek advice from a healthcare professional before attempting this pose.


It is recommended that pregnant individuals refrain from practicing this pose. The intense arching of the back in this pose can apply pressure on the abdomen, which could potentially endanger both the mother and the developing fetus.

Heart Conditions

People with heart ailments or high blood pressure should exercise caution, as the pose increases heart rate and blood flow. Consultation with a healthcare provider is crucial before attempting this pose.

Neck and Shoulder Issues

Individuals with neck and shoulder issues should exercise caution and avoid this pose. The intense backbend in this yoga pose may strain these areas, potentially exacerbating existing discomfort or injury.

Recent Surgeries

People who have undergone recent surgeries, especially spine or abdomen surgeries, should refrain from this. It could strain the healing tissues and impede the recovery process.

Vertigo or Dizziness

People prone to dizziness or vertigo should avoid this pose, as the inversion and backward bend may worsen these conditions.

Joint Issues

Those with severe knee or ankle problems should be cautious, as this pose involves bending the knees and flexing the ankles. Modifications or props may be necessary.

Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances

Performing the Bow Pose too close to bedtime may energize the body and mind, potentially disrupting sleep. It’s advisable to practice the pose earlier in the day.

Before incorporating this Yogasana into your yoga practice, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional to ensure a safe and suitable practice. Pay attention to your body, refrain from exceeding your boundaries, and adapt accordingly considering your personal health circumstances.

Preparatory Poses

Before embarking on this yoga pose, mastery of fundamental back-bending poses such as Cobra and Crocodile is advised. These poses cultivate the necessary flexibility and strength in the spine, preparing the body for the demands of a deeper backbend.

The Locust Pose, known for its ability to engage the back muscles, stands as an exceptional preparatory posture. Incorporating Locust Pose into your routine helps build the foundational strength essential for a smooth progression into advanced backbends. This gradual approach not only minimizes the risk of strain or injury but also ensures a more fulfilling and sustainable yoga practice as you explore the enriching depths of the Bow Pose and other intricate back-bending postures.

Dhanurasana Steps

Step 1

Lie on your stomach with your legs close together, ensuring a straight alignment. Position your arms flat on the floor, near your body, maintaining a comfortable and stable foundation for the upcoming movements.

Step 2

Inhale deeply, bending your knees and drawing your feet towards your buttocks. Secure a firm grip by clasping your palms around the ankles, creating a stable foundation as you prepare for the next phase.

Step 3

Maintaining a secure grip on the ankles, elevate your feet, thighs, chest, and head. Keep your arms straight, forming a graceful arch in the back as you synchronize the upward movement of multiple body parts.

Step 4

Subsequently, gently tilt your head backward, shifting your entire body weight onto the stomach. Breathe slowly and sustain the posture for as long as it remains comfortable, allowing a gradual and mindful engagement with the pose.

Step 5

Conclude by gently releasing the pose, lowering your legs, and exhaling. Maintain a prone position until your breath returns to normal, allowing a smooth transition and a moment of relaxation after completing this Pose.

Dhanurasana Duration

The duration for holding this Yoga Pose can vary based on individual practice levels, flexibility, and comfort. For beginners, holding the pose for 15-30 seconds is a good starting point. Intermediate practitioners may aim for 30-60 seconds, while advanced practitioners may extend the duration to 60 seconds or more.

It is crucial to pay attention to your body and refrain from exceeding your boundaries. Focus on maintaining proper form and alignment throughout the duration. Over time, with consistent practice, you can gradually increase the duration, allowing your body to adapt and experience the full benefits of this invigorating yoga pose. Always consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional to tailor the practice to your individual needs.

Follow Up Postures

After completing this Pose, integrating follow-up postures becomes imperative to balance the body. Pascimottanasana, a seated forward bend, gently stretches the spine and hamstrings. Downward-facing Dog Pose aids in elongating the entire body, promoting flexibility and strength. Hand-to-foot Pose further extends this stretch, emphasizing a connection between the hands and feet, enhancing flexibility in the posterior chain. Incorporating these forward-bending poses serves as a complementary sequence, fostering a harmonious counterbalance to the backbend of the bow Pose. This holistic approach ensures a well-rounded yoga practice, offering both flexibility and strength to various muscle groups while promoting a sense of equilibrium and mindful alignment.

Advanced Pose Considerations

Purna Dhanurasana

Once proficient in the foundational Bow Pose, enthusiasts may explore its advanced variation: Purna Dhanurasana, the Complete Bow Pose. Here, a deeper backbend is achieved as the feet draw closer to the head. Unlike the standard pose, the hands transition from clasping the ankles to delicately bringing the big toes towards the ears, intensifying the stretch and requiring enhanced flexibility. Mastery of the Complete Bow Pose demands heightened spinal flexibility, strength, and a mindful approach to avoid strain. As practitioners delve into advanced variations, it’s crucial to progress gradually, respecting the body’s limitations, and seeking guidance from experienced instructors to ensure a safe and effective practice.

Eka Pada Dhanurasana

The One-Legged Bow Pose is an advanced yoga posture that builds upon the foundation of the traditional Bow Pose. In this variation, the focus is on isolating one leg at a time, deepening the stretch, and challenging balance.

To practice this advanced version:

  1. Begin in Bow Pose, lying on your stomach with your knees bent and feet lifted towards the buttocks.
  2. While in the pose, shift your weight to one side and extend one leg straight back, engaging the muscles in the extended leg.
  3. Maintain the arch in your back and continue to lift the chest, balancing on the opposite leg.
  4. Hold the pose for a few breaths, ensuring stability and a deep stretch in the extended leg.
  5. Return to the center and repeat the process with the other leg.

One-Legged Bow Pose enhances spinal flexibility, strengthens the back muscles, and improves balance. As with any advanced yoga pose, it is advisable to attempt it under the guidance of an experienced yoga instructor, especially if you are new to the practice or have any pre-existing health concerns.

Urdhva Dhanurasana

The Wheel Pose or the Upward Bow Pose, is generally considered more advanced and requires greater strength and flexibility compared to the Bow Pose

The Bow Pose commences with lying on the abdomen, whereas the Wheel Pose commences with lying on the back. The former entails grasping the ankles, while the latter involves placing the hands beside the ears. In the Bow Pose, the knees are bent, emphasizing a more profound stretch in the thighs, whereas, in the latter pose, the legs are usually straight, intensifying the backbend.

Dhanurasana Benefits

The Bow Pose offers a multitude of benefits that include the following:

Tones Up the Internal organs

The Bow Pose actively engages and tones abdominal muscles while promoting enhanced functionality of vital internal organs like the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and pancreas. This dynamic combination not only strengthens the core but also fosters improved organ health. Also, it optimizes its roles in digestion, filtration, and endocrine regulation. The pose, with its holistic impact, contributes to a balanced and revitalized internal system, promoting overall well-being and vitality.

Improves Digestive and Reproductive Systems

The Bow Pose positively influences both the digestive and reproductive systems. By stimulating these systems, it proves beneficial in alleviating issues such as indigestion, infertility, and constipation. The pose enhances blood flow to these vital areas, promoting improved functionality and addressing concerns related to digestion and reproductive health. Integrating this Pose into regular practice contributes to holistic well-being, fostering balance in these crucial physiological functions.

Aids in Weight Reduction and Management

It is beneficial for weight reduction and management. Engaging the core muscles and promoting a comprehensive stretch, helps burn calories and enhance metabolism. The pose activates various muscle groups, supporting overall body strength and toning. Regular practice of this pose, coupled with a balanced lifestyle, contributes to weight management goals. It improves increased energy expenditure and promotes healthy metabolism, making it a valuable addition to a weight-conscious fitness routine.

Improves Spine Flexibility

This Yoga Pose is instrumental in enhancing spinal flexibility and correcting postural issues, eliminating hunching. As the body arches into the bow-like position, the pose effectively stretches and strengthens the entire spine. The extension of the back not only alleviates tension but also promotes a more upright posture by counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting or poor posture. Regular practice of this yoga posture contributes to a supple and resilient spine. This enhances overall spinal health. Additionally, the pose stimulates the nervous system, promoting improved coordination and balance. Furthermore, it enhances the body’s ability to maintain an upright and aligned stance.

Helps Maintain Balanced Menstrual Cycle

This Pose proves beneficial for menstrual disorders. The pose stimulates blood flow to the pelvic region, relieving menstrual discomfort. It stretches and strengthens abdominal muscles, potentially easing cramps. Regular practice of this pose contributes to a more balanced menstrual cycle. Also, it mitigates associated discomfort, making it a valuable addition to women’s health and well-being.

Helps in the Management of Diabetes

The Bow Pose aids in diabetes management. The pose promotes pancreatic health by stimulating the pancreas, potentially aiding insulin production. Regular practice, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, may contribute to improved blood sugar control, making it a supportive element in diabetes management.

Improves the Functions of Lungs

It enhances lung function, making it beneficial for combating respiratory ailments like asthma. The deep expansion of the chest in this pose encourages increased lung capacity and strengthens respiratory muscles. Regular practice may contribute to improved respiratory efficiency. It aids in better control and management of asthma and other breathing conditions. The pose’s therapeutic effects on the respiratory system make it a valuable addition to holistic approaches to respiratory health and well-being.


In the harmonious dance of mind and body, the Bow Pose emerges not merely as a physical pose but as a transformative gateway to holistic well-being. As the bowstring of effort meets the arrow of intent, this yoga posture not only shapes a resilient physique but also draws attention inward, connecting breath, spirit, and vitality. Beyond the aesthetic arch of the body lies a journey of self-discovery and renewal. With each bow, we release not only physical tension but also emotional burdens, creating space for rejuvenation. In the universal bowing of body and soul, Dhanurasana becomes a unique expression of personal empowerment, resilience, and the continuous quest for balance in the symphony of life.

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