Comprehensive Guide to Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Dhanurasana is yet another of the many significant Asanas in Yogasan. Technically, it is a backbend that deeply opens the chest and the body’s front. If you are looking to practice Dhanurasana, here’s a comprehensive guide that discusses various aspects like the benefits of Dhanurasana, how to do it, and also touches upon Urdhva Dhanurasana. 


Definition of Dhanurasana (Also Known as Bow Pose) The word Dhanurasana combines two words – Dhanu, which means bow, and Asana, which refers to a pose. In Dhanurasana, the person performing it lies flat on the stomach and bends the knees. Then the person takes the arms back to hold the ankles.  While doing so, the back arches and thighs lift off of the floor, as the chest pushes forward, bending the body to form a bow-like shape. Thus, the Asana is called the Bow Pose. Brief History and Origin of the Pose Dhanurasana’s history is associated with Seeta’s Swayamvar – the process through which a princess of marriageable age would choose a husband from various candidates.  Lord Shiva gave his celestial bow to King Janaka, the father of Sita. The bow was so heavy and powerful that no mortal, except for little Sita, could lift it. But during Sita’s Swayamvar, Lord Rama lifted the bow and drew the string so hard that he broke the shaft.  Thus, it was through Shiva’s bow that Sita became Lord Rama’s queen. This story signifies Lord Shiva passing on the practice of Yoga to King Janaka. How to do Dhanurasana? Step-by-Step Instructions  Here’s how to do Dhanurasana.
  • Lie on your stomach with feet apart and in line with your hips, and arms by the body’s side.
  • Now, fold your knees and take your hands backward to hold your ankles.
  • Breathe in, and lift your chest off the ground.
  • Pull your legs up and towards the back. 
  • Look straight ahead.
  • Maintain the pose while focusing on your breath.
  • Continue deep breathing as you relax in this pose. 
  • However, don’t overbend or overstretch.
  • After 15-20 seconds, while exhaling, gradually bring back your chest and legs to the ground and release the ankles.
Modifications and Variations for Different Skill Levels and Physical Abilities For beginners or people with limited flexibility, bow entry, and exit could be challenging. Releasing the position carefully to avoid damage and strain is crucial for such people. They can release the stance after lowering their head, chest, thighs, and feet.  In some cases, when the practitioner lifts some parts of the body, releasing them can result in a painful collision with the floor. Hence, one should slowly lower themselves and release the ankles when safe.

Dhanurasana Yoga and Bow Pose Yoga Benefits

Overview of Dhanurasana Yoga and Bow Pose Yoga Dhanurasana is one of the twelve basic poses mentioned in Hatha Yoga. Also called the Bow Pose, it uses various muscles of the body like the calves, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, shoulders, neck muscles, etc. The types of Dhanurasana include Parsva Dhanurasana and Purna Dhanurasana. Benefits of practicing Dhanurasana Yoga and Bow Pose Yoga Some benefits of Dhanurasana include the following.
  • Improved Posture and Spinal Flexibility
Dhanurasana tones your back and enhances the spine’s flexibility, thus helping you avoid spine-related problems in the long run.
  • Strengthening of the Back, Arms, and Legs
The position is pretty challenging and requires pushing the abilities of your back, arms, and legs. The movements involved in performing Dhanurasana help strengthen the arms, legs, and back region of the individual.
  • Relief from Constipation and Menstrual Discomfort
Dhanurasana helps stretch the abdominal muscles and enhances the digestion process. Thus, it helps relieve people from problems like constipation. In addition, the pose also helps resolve menstruation disorders and discomfort.
  • Improvement in Respiratory Function
Bow Pose also addresses respiratory disorders and helps cures problems like asthma.
  • Strengthening of the Immune System
Dhanurasana helps enhance the body’s blood flow and thus boost immunity.
  • Reduction of Stress and Anxiety
Dhanurasana can help you relieve stress and anxiety and also reduce the symptoms of depression by controlling the level of the hormone called cortisol.

Precautions to Take While Practicing Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana is undoubtedly beneficial for the body. But you must take some precautions while performing Dhanurasana. Here are some of them.
  • Avoid performing the Bow Pose or modify it appropriately under expert guidance if you have lower back pain.
  • Do not attempt to bend backward. Instead, focus on expanding your chest and ankles pressing on your hands.
  • If you feel your knee hurting on the outer part, then the knees and feet can be separated and pulled out.
  • You shouldn’t force your neck back. Instead, you should hold it in a neutral position if you’ve hurt it.
  • Stay cautious while taking weight on your shoulder. It is a better practice to grab ankles from the outside so that shoulders feel much safer and more stable.
  • Avoid or do this posture very gently if you suffer from hyper or hypotension.
  • Avoid performing Dhanurasana during pregnancy.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Definition Also called Chakrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana means upward bow pose. The posture involves making the spine bend backward like a bow. Difference Between Dhanurasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana The benefits of Dhanurasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana are almost the same. But the difference here is that of the pose. While Dhanurasana is referred to as the Bow Pose, Urdhva Dhanurasana is described as the upward-facing bow or wheel pose. Step-by-Step Instructions  Here’s how to perform Urdhva Dhanurasana.
  • Lie on your back.
  • Gradually, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. 
  • Maintain a foot’s distance between your feet and hips.
  • Place your hands on the floor above your shoulders. 
  • Let your fingers face your shoulders.
  • Now press on to your hands and lift your body’s upper part. 
  • Rest your head’s crown lightly on the ground.
  • Press into your feet and lift your legs, pelvis, and abdomen. Perform this while activating your inner thigh muscles.
  • Bring more weight to your palms to protect your lower back from strain.
  • Let your head remain stable and neutral. Don’t let your neck strain.
  • Hold the position for 5-10 seconds.
  • Now, lower your arms and legs gently and place your back on the floor to return to the starting position.

Benefits of Urdhva Dhanurasana

Some of Urdhva Dhanurasana Yoga’s benefits include the following.
  • Opens the chest and stretches the shoulders
  • Increases legs, spine, arms, and abdominal strength
  • Strengthens the thigh and glute
  • Enhances spinal flexibility
  • Increases hip flexor and core strength


Dhanurasana is an excellent Asana to reap benefits like improved posture, enhanced respiratory system, improved digestion, reduced stress, etc. Hence, you should perform Dhanurasana under expert guidance to leverage its advantages in the long run. 

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