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How to do Bow pose in yoga

yoga bow pose

The bow pose reflects the shape of the bow of an archer, as we extend ourselves into a strong backbend. It is one of the most powerful heart opening poses in yoga, as it can benefit the whole body. No matter how deeply you can go with your bend, you are going to get some wonderful benefits throughout your body.

This pose will help you to feel energised and prepare for turning this the other way up for complete back bend. This pose is also known as dhanaurasana and is much easier in some flexible clothing, all that can be found in our shop.

The benefits of this pose

The bow pose stretches the front of the body, from tip to toe. You will feel the stretch through the ankles, the thighs, the groin, the abdomen and the chest. You will even feel it through the throat. Most useful is the deep stretch to the hip flexors – a place that can tighten up during other yoga practice.

The bow pose can also strengthen the back muscles, that are flexed to keep you in the pose. It can also improve your posture – as our daily lives often cause us to hunch forward over a desk or laptop. This pose naturally pulls against gravity and pushes our shoulders back. A lot of people suffer with particularly tight shoulders and this can help loosen them a little.

As we roll onto our front, we also stimulate the organs of the abdomen – which can help with the digestive system – countering issues of constipation, in particular. It is also good for menstrual discomfort too, due to the same massage qualities. It also aids the neck – stretching out any clicks and creaks.

Instructions

  1. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Lie with your arms by your side, with your palms up. It might be good to pad the floor under the torso and legs, for your comfort.
  2. Exhale and bend your knees. Bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you can.
  3. Reach back and take hold of the ankles – not the top of the feet. Make sure your knees are hip width apart – do not splay your legs.
  4. Inhale, now lift your heels away from your butt. At the same time, lift the thighs up from the floor. You should keep the back muscles soft.
  5. Continue to lift the heels and thighs higher – press your shoulders together firmly – and open your heart.
  6. Pull the shoulders away from the ears and keep your gaze forward – softened.
  7. Your stomach is pressing into the floor- therefore your breathing will be more difficult. It is important to keep breathing through the pose and focus on how the breath is in the back of the body.
  8. Maintain the pose for somewhere between 20 to 30 seconds. Release gently with an exhale and lie still on the floor for a few breathes.
  9. Repeat the pose a few times more, loosening up a little each time.

yoga bow pose

Tips

The biggest temptation is to kick your legs and hold on to them for dear life, with hands gripping ankles. However, if this pose is going to give you the most benefit then you need to engage the legs and the upper back muscles so that you can maintain the openness without jerking too much. With time, your chest will open out and your upper back will strengthen, and you will attempt this pose with stillness.

Be aware that you should be cautious of this pose if you suffer with high or low blood pressure. It is not a good pose if you struggle with migraines, insomnia or serious lower back or neck injury.

Modifications and Variations

If you struggle to reach your ankles at first, then you can begin by using a band. Hook these around the feet and pull on these whilst lifting the thighs and the chest. You should still try to keep the arms fully extended. If you are a beginner, it is also a good idea to pile up a few towels under the thighs to help at first.

If you feel that you can deepen the pose, then you should attempt to keep your thighs, calves and inner feet touching as you bend. This is an advanced pose and should be attempted under the supervision of an instructor at first.

This is also a great pose to do with a partner. It is possible for a partner to place their inner knees bracing your outer knees. They can then lift up your upper torso by pulling your heels away from your bottom, whilst keeping your thighs on the floor. Your partner is only there to offer a support with the lift and they should not be used to deepen the pose.

A variation could be Parsva. This is done on the side, rather than on the belly. Once you have got into bow pose you tug strongly on your left foot and roll on your right side. At first when you roll over everything will unwrap itself and you will just be lying on the floor. With practice, you should be able to keep the bend going during this movement. You stay on your side for 30 seconds and then exhale before releasing.

To perfect the pose

This is the pose you want to take up if you want to stop that slouching. You spend so much time hunched over your phone it could be that those shoulders are rounding – then this is the pose for you. If you manage to hold the bow pose still and for an extended time, then you will push your chest forward. Imagine if you bought our Love Tuner Antique necklace – then this pose would help you display it with pride!

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