Standing Bow Pose, Dandayamana Dhanurasana, (boo-jah-PEED-AH-suh-nuh)
danda (stick) + yamana (balancing) + dhanur (bow) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Dandayamana Dhanurasana
Strengthen, lengthen and improve your balance in this challenging Bikram yoga pose.
Standing Bow Pose Fundamentals
Standing Bow Pose is one of the 26 asanas in Bikram yoga. The pose is included in the series as it includes several actions at once – it will improve your strength, flexibility, and balance simultaneously.
Still, one of the most purported benefits of this asana is the fact that it moves circulation from one side of the body to the other, improving the blood flow to the heart and spine.
Similar to many other deep backbends, this asana is enjoyable for some practitioners and extremely challenging for others.
That will depend on your anatomy, flexibility, and experience in yoga, but you can still gain benefits by working towards the pose, even if you don’t accomplish the full expression.
This asana is similar to Dancer’s Pose, with a larger focus on stretching the legs. Although the poses have their differences, you can alternate between them in your practice if one seems more accessible than the other.Regardless of your experience, have in mind that this is an advanced pose, so make sure you’re warmed up before you attempt it.
On a mental level, this pose is believed to help release negative emotions and thought patterns, such as shame, abandonment, lack of self-worth, and fears. Challenging you physically, Standing Bow Pose can improve your patience and determination, and these virtues can be valuable for you both on and off the mat.
Standing Bow Pose Benefits
- Opens and lengthens the spine, shoulders, leg muscles, and groin.
- Strengthens the standing leg, hips, and glutes, as well as abs and arms.
- Improves the function of the cardiovascular system and boosts blood flow toward the heart and lungs.
- It opens the shoulders and the diaphragm, which can help you breathe deeper.
How To Do Standing Bow Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Begin standing in Mountain Pose. Move your feet together and keep them parallel, and relax your arms to your sides.
2. Now lift the right foot and grab the inner side with your right hand. Advanced students can also try grabbing the inner side of the ankle.
3. Lift your left arm up, lengthen your spine, and gaze to the front.
4. With an exhalation, move your right leg back behind you, and lift it up. Although you should aim to keep it straight, you can also bend it a little, depending on your anatomy and flexibility. As you do that, your torso will naturally lean forward for counterbalance.
5. Continue lowering your torso, trying to move it almost parallel to the floor. Simultaneously, your lifted foot will move above your head.
6. Hold for a couple of breaths and slowly release. Come back to Mountain Pose and repeat the same steps on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- Hold your foot (or ankle) firmly, using all fingers.
- In the starting position, your feet and knees should be together.
- Keep stretching the lifted arm up and try to maintain a long spine for the whole duration of the pose. As you kick your leg back, your spine will slightly arch backward – but don’t force or overdo the backbend.
- When you enter the pose, imagine your foot moving above your head and further to intensify the stretch.
- In Bikram yoga, students are instructed to hold the first stage of the pose, with the torso still upright for 10 seconds, and then begin to lean forward to enter the full expression of the pose.
- Check your standing foot – try to manage weight evenly in the heel and toes.
Standing Bow Pose Variations:
Near A Wall
Standing Bow Pose is a challenging balancing asana, and if you struggle to maintain balance, practice close to a wall.
You can place one hand on a wall to support you. Alternatively, you can also partner up and ask a friend to hold your hips to steady your balance.
In the full expression of this asana, the lifted leg is completely straight. However, that can be extremely difficult and even impossible for beginners.
Instead, you can slightly bend your knee, while still following all other alignment cues for the pose.
With A Strap
Another alternative if you struggle to straighten your leg or reach your foot, is to use a strap to extend your reach.
While still in Mountain Pose, create a small loop with your strap and place your foot in it. Then hold the strap with the same hand you would use to hold the foot, and follow other steps as usual. Alternatively, you can also loop the strap around the ankle.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Not holding tight enough. If you only softly hold the ankle or foot, you can easily lose your grip when you enter the pose. Make sure you grab it as firmly as you can, using all five fingers.
This pose is not recommended for students with ankle, knee, arm, or back injuries. If you feel dizzy or have any other condition which causes you to lose balance, practice under supervision and use props for support.
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