Dhanurasana - The Bow

The BowThe Bow

Etymology

From Sanskrit dhanu धनु: bow.

"Stretch both legs on the ground like a stick and catching hold of the toes with the hands make the body like a bow. This is called Dhanura-asana or bow posture."
The Gheranda-samhita I.18

Description

The starting position consists in lying down on the stomach. The head rests on the chin. The feet touch one another and the hands are on the side of the body. The eyes already fix a virtual or real point and the focus is on the abdominal area.

SUpon exhalation, the legs are bent and the hands grasp the ankles. Upon the following inhalation, while fixing the point, the head and upper torso are raised. The feet are used as a level to push upward and backward.

It is suggested to practice at least seven visamavritti of 3/12/6/0. Counting is done mentally without hurry. The rhythm should not be changed during the position. With time rhythms such as 4/16/8/0 or 5/20/10/0 can be adopted

Note: Stability and continuity are the keys to this posture. As for all postures, rather than seeking the perfect posture, it is better to find a comfortable intermediary in which the breathing techniques and the ability to focus can be practiced.

The breathing occurs through seven cycles and the counts take into consideration:

  • The cycle consisting of [Inspiration/Full-Lung Retention/Expiration]
  • The total number of cycles.

During the FLR, focus on strengthening Mula Bandha. Attempt to perceive the energy condensing in the spine.

Symbolism

The 7 cycles could be envisioned as the seven energy circles, allowing a deeper penetration in the Self.

 

Wrong Position of the feet

 

The Bow

 

 

 

Advanced Variant

In this variant, the whole posture occurs within one breathing cycle:

Upon exhalation, the feet are grasped. Upon inhalation, the posture is taken and the FLR is held as long as possible while reaching for maximal height and minimal body angle. The tension is brought to its paroxysm. Shambavi Mudra is applied. During the exhalation, the body comes back on the ground. The cycle starts again with the next inhalation. Once the sequence is comfortable, the time of FLR is increased.