Akarna Dhanurasana - Shooting Bow
Ethymology and Synonyms
Akarna Dhanurasana (Sanskrit: आकर्ण धनुरासन; IAST: Ākarṇa Dhanurāsana). Ākarṇa; Karṇa - ear and the prefix Ā - towards; or near. Dhanu - "bow"
The shooting bow postures are ferocious techniques. These postures are ideal for the one who really want to experience Hatha Yoga, negating a popular belief that yoga is a practice of relaxation and of letting go. Quite on the contrary, it is a practice of endurance and of extreme power.
One starts with one leg stretch frontward and the other one bend in such a way that the foot comes to the perineum. While exhaling, seize with one hand the toes of the stretched leg and with the other one those of the bended one. This grasp must be firm. Hold the position while breathing several times in order to mobilize the energies, while gazing with the eyes wide open on a specific or imaginary object.
In this position, the bow is the whole body, the target is the focus on a point, the arrow is the energy of the will. Upon an inspiration, bend the arrow by rising the foot of the bended leg. Hold the position with the support of the breathing and of the fixation on the target. Ideally, the foot goes up to the ear.
At the level of breathing, the focus is on holding the breath as long as possible. The exhalation is prolonged, without precipitation, and so forth. It is also necessary to render the breathing noisy with the throat lock (Ujjayin).
It is also possible to use Bhastrika (abdominal breathing). This helps holding the position longer. In such case, hold the position with a full inhalation and culminate with holding the breath.
Finally, the return occurs during an exhalation, while upholding the gaze on the target. During another exhalation, leave the posture and immediately go to the other leg. The left and right times must be equal.
According to the possibilities of the practitioner, after several breathing, another cycle is initiated. This goes on until complete exhaustion. It is beneficial to link the cycles x2, x3, x4, up until x10, even if the height of the ascending leg starts to decrease.
This repetition of the left and right cycles has the major advantage to inscribe in the subtle body the imprint of the will and power. This leads to lighten the more material body.
In this version, the foot is held by the opposite hand.
This position is less powerful. It works more on the flexibility and through the added torsion. The effects are therefore different. It is also possible to place the leg above the stretched arm.
In this version, the breathing rhythm follows Visamavritti. This adapts to the archetype of the posture.