While yoga may lag behind in terms of building the tempo as compared to other forms of exercises, it definitely doesn't play second fiddle when it comes to benefiting the body, both physically and mentally. No wonder then, it is known as the perfect tool to bring balance in your body.
Dhanurasana, also known as the bow pose, is a yoga exercise which is credited to relieving stress and anxiety, among other benefits. Head to any yoga class and chances are that your instructor will include it in the exercise regime. It is easy to perform, as compared to some yoga asanas, which require immense concentration. But don't be fooled by its simplicity because it works in many ways to stretch out your body and stimulate its various functions.
As the name suggests, 'dhanu' meaning 'bow' in Hindi, this asana makes your body form the shape of a bow as you lie on your stomach and use your hands to hold the feet while you stretch out. When you perform the asana, your body actually resembles a stretched bow, your hands being the strings.
According to an article about Dhanurasana on Yoga International website, it states, "Resembling an archer's bow, this posture encourages a powerful stretch along the front of the body and a deep opening at the heart center, helping you cultivate an attitude of fearlessness and grace."
How to Perform Dhanurasana
Here's a step-by-step guide to performing Dhanurasana -
1. Lie down on your stomach with your feet slightly apart, almost parallel to your hips, and place your arms on the side of your body.
2. Slowly, fold your knees up and hold your ankles with your hands.
3. Breathe in and lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and stretch it out. You should feel the stretch on your arms and thighs.
4. Hold the pose for 12-15 seconds, paying attention to your breath as you take long, deep ones.
5. Slowly bring your chest and legs back to the ground, release your hold on the ankles, and relax with your hands on the side. Repeat for a few sets.
Benefits of Dhanurasana
Performing Dhanurasana on a regular basis can bring about various health benefits -
1. As stated by Bharat Thakur on his website, during Dhanurasan, "the spinal column is stretched, improving blood circulation to the spinal nerves."
2. It also stretches your neck, shoulder, arms and leg muscles, thus strengthening those areas.
3. It is considered to be a good exercise for those with chest or breathing ailments like asthma, as it expands the chest and increases the breathing capacity of the lungs.