Deepening Your Practice with Bow Pose

My latest article for the Stanly News and Press:

Dhanurasana is Sanskrit for Bow Pose because this posture looks like an archer’s bow.  Practice this pose to help with digestion and create more energy in the body.  This asana is beneficial in opening up the entire front of the body while it strengthens the back, but it is not one to practice if you have low back or neck pain and you should make sure the body is very warm first.

My friend, Meredith, opens up.

To prepare, take a few more gentle backbends like Cobra, Bridge and Locust.  Remember that modifications are a great way to make Yoga more accessible to your body.  There are many ways to modify this pose.  You can take only one foot at a time, leaving the other leg extended on the floor.  You can take a strap and wrap it around the tops of both feet and hold it in both hands before you lift into Bow.  You can also simply reach your fingers back toward your feet without binding anything at all as you reach the body up.

After the body feels loose and warm, come to your belly and bend both of your knees.  Take your hands behind you and reach to hold the tops of the feet.  If you find that this is a very deep stretch for you, then stay right here and breathe.  If you have room to deepen, press your feet into your hands with your arms extended and lift your thighs, head and chest off the floor.

Move slowly into the pose and allow time and breath to help you lift higher.  It is always more difficult to breathe in a backbending pose because the lungs are being pressed into the ribs.  Let your body move in a gentle rock back and forth if that feels natural.  Yoga poses are not stagnant and still, but always slightly moving and changing in subtle ways and by increments.

While holding your eyes on your Drishti, or focal point, breathe in and out through your nose while you hold for five to seven breaths.  Lower slowly back to your belly and let go of the feet, laying your left ear on the floor.  Allow your hips to rock side to side to relieve the low back or keep your knees bent as you “windshield wiper” your feet side to side.  Turn your right ear to the floor for a few more breaths before moving on with the rest of your practice.

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