Classic Studies On Yoga

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Dhanurasana: Meaning, Steps, Benefits

Introduction

Dhanurasana is an intermediate level back bending yoga posture. Medieval yoga texts like Gheranda Samhita, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika describe this posture.

There exists a disparity among the descriptions given by the medieval yoga texts. Gheranda Samhita describes Dhanurasana in a prone lying position whereas Hatha Ratnavali describes this posture in a sitting position which is otherwise known as Akarshana Dhanurasana or Karmukasana.

Akarshana Dhanurasana is a yoga position that resembles to a bow stretched with an arrow ready to be shot. It is a sitting yoga position where the big toes are held by the hands and one of them is stretched towards the ear.

Dhanurasana Information

Pose NameDhanurasana
Sanksrit Nameधनुरासन
IASTDhanurāsana
English NameBow Pose
OriginMedieval Period
LevelIntermediate
GroupDhanurasana
TypeBack Bending

Dhanurasana Meaning

It is the combination of two Sanskrit words: Dhanur and Asana. Dhanur means a bow and Asana means a yoga position. Therefore it gets the name Bow Pose in English. This posture in the final position looks like bow and hence the name.

The Sanskrit Karmuka also means a Bow. Some people call Akarshana Dhanurasana by the name Karmukasana whereas some people give a different account (a Padmasana version) of Karmukasana.

However, I take the Gheranda Samhita account (prone lying position) of Dhanurasana in this post and Akarshana Dhanurasana and Karmukasana separately.

Bow Pose Procedure

Safety and Precautions

This posture requires the flexibility of the spine. Those with stiff should take while attempting this one.

Pregnant people and those who are having health conditions like heart ailments, spinal injury should avoid this practice.

People suffering from hernia should consult their doctor before doing this.

Furthermore, One should avoid practising this asana before bedtime, since it may disturb the sleep.

Preparatory Poses

Before taking this practice, one should master minor back bending poses like Cobra Pose, and Crocodile Pose.

Shalabasana is very good preparatory pose.

Dhanurasana Steps

Step 1

Lie prone on the stomach with legs closer together. Place the arms flat on the floor closer to the body.

Step 2

Take a deep breath. Bend the knees and bring the feet close to the buttocks. Clasp the palms around the ankles.

Step 3

Without loosing the palms’ grip over the ankles, raise the feet , thigh, chest, and head, keeping the arms straight and arching the back.

Step 4

Tilt your head back and now total body weight is on the stomach. Breathe slowly and keep the position as long as it is comfortable.

Step 5

Finally, release the position bringing back the legs down. While doing this, exhale. Keep lying on the stomach until breathe comes to normal.

Dhanurasana Duration

Initial duration may be a minute or two. Extend the duration up to two to three minutes gradually. One may repeat the posture according to his one’s capacity.

Follow Up Postures

One should resort to any of the forward bending poses mentioned below.

Advanced Pose Considerations

After mastering Bow Pose, One may try the advanced Bow Pose: Complete Bow Pose. In this version, the feet are drawn closer to the head. Moreover, in stead of palms clasping over ankles, the fingers should bring the big toes towards the ears.

Dhanurasana Benefits

The following are the benefits of Bow Pose.

  • This Asana tones up the abdomen muscles and internal organs and as a result, it improves the functions of the liver, kidneys, adrenal and pancreas.
  • Bow Pose improves the digestive and reproductive systems and improves the conditions like indigestion and constipation.
  • This pose is good for weight reduction and management.
  • It improves the flexibility of the spine and helps remove hunch.
  • Bow Pose is good for menstrual disorders.
  • It helps in the management of diabetes.
  • Bow Pose improves the functions of the lungs helps one fights with Asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Dhanurasana in Gheranda Samhita

The verse 2.18 of Gheranda Samhita 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 is Dhanurasana .

Gheranda Samhita 2.18.

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