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Dhanuvakrasana Arch your spine backwards like a bow edit button Edit

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A.D Pradeep Kumar | calendar 19 April 2024 | 26

The Financial Express, June 2000

In the daily course of asana practice, it is better to follow a pattern. Start with the standing postures, then the sitting postures and end with the lying down postures.

Among the lying down asanas, do those postures that involve your lying supine first. Good examples of these are the Yastikasana and the Pavanamuktsana, both of which have been mentioned earlier in the series.

While doing the Pavanamuktasana, you experience anterior contraction and posterior stretching. To counterpoise that, you should immediately do an anterior stretching and posterior contraction pose. The best for this is the Dhanuvakrasana, or the bow-curve pose. In the Hatha Yogapradipika, the Dhanuvakrasana is also referred to as the Dhanurasana. “Holding the toes with the hands, pull them up to the ears as if drawing a bow: This is called the Dhanurasana”.

This asana is called the Bow pose or Dhanurasana because in the final stage, the body is arched like a bow from the head to the knees, with the hands clasping the ankle joints. The hands and the portion of the leg below the knee joint appear like a bow string.

This asana's traditional posture, especially the Poorna Dhanurasana, is very difficult to perform. However, it has been simplified so that the practitioner can derive the same benefits from it without over-exerting himself.

Posture

  • Lie flat on your abdomen with your legs fully stretched out and your arms resting at the side.
  • Bend your legs at the knee joint upwards from behind and fold them.
  • Grasp your ankles, keeping your arms stretched to their full length.
  • While inhaling for three seconds, raise your head and neck, keeping your knees together all the time.
  • Retain your breath and maintain the pose for six seconds.
  • Rest your entire body on only the area of the navel (the umbilical region), assuming a somewhat circular position.
  • While exhaling for three seconds, return to the starting position.
  • Perform two rounds of the asana.
  • Rest in Makasrasana for 3-5 seconds. The movements, breathing and time should be adjusted as follows:
    • Upward pull, inhale, three seconds;
    • Maintain pose, retain breath, six seconds
    • Return to starting position, exhale, three seconds.

The Dhanuvakrasana provides intra-abdominal compression, improves circulation and tones the abdominal viscera. It also helps keep the spinal column supple.

The special hygienic features of this posture are the extraordinary amount of pressure exerted due to the whole body being thrown upon the umbilical region only; the extreme stretching of the abdominal and pelvic muscles; and a steady pull anteriorly throughout the spinal column, with the alternate correction and relaxation of the spinal muscle.

Further, the venous drainage of the splanchnic circulation facilitates fresh supply of blood to the abdominal viscera, especially to the lower abdomen and the sex organs.

In the backward bending asanas, the extensors of the vertebral column are exercised in an anti-gravity movement. The abdominal wall muscles are stretched. There is increase in coelomic cavity to some extent. The backward bend of the spine adjusts the vertebral column, straightens a hunched back and drooping shoulders.

The nerves of the spinal column are stimulated due to enhanced blood supply and relaxation of the tendons of the vertebral column.

In fact, most of the postures exercises the spine in one way or other because Yoga lays great emphasis on the care of the spinal column and the nerves.

The Dhanuvakrasana provides relief in diseases of the back and neck that result from disuse or stagnation. It regulates the digestive eliminatory and reproductive organs. It massages the liver and pancreas and is thus useful for the Yogic management of diabetes. It stimulates the kidneys and tones the entire alimentary canal.

Due to the pressure exerted on the abdominal wall and large intestine, the Dhanuvakrasana may also help in reducing the circumference of the abdomen and improving the working of the digestive and excretory systems. This asana can help to cure constipation, gas trouble and indigestion.

By lying on the diaphragm with the arms stretched back, you give a gentle massage to the chest is fully expanded, this asana is useful in the treatment of various chest ailments. Conditions like lordosis and scoliosis can be successfully managed by the regular practice of the Dhanuvakrasana. It is also recommended for treating certain type of rheumatism.

Limitations

Abdominal inflammation, pregnancy, cardiac problems, piles, hernia, hypertension.

Bhava

Asanas are effective tools for strength, and indirectly aid in attitude training. This particularly significant in the case of the backward bending asanas since the spine is most stubbornly rigid with regard to backward movement. The Bhava here is Aishwarya (confidence and self-reliance) since you are using your will to make a rigid spine flexible and this involves effort. Strengthening the will occurs best when awareness of the goal is maintained constantly even in the face of difficulties. An amount of commitment is involved in all acts of Tapa or self-discipline.

None can sail through life without problems. Those who overcome problems successfully are those who choose to never give up. These are the people who have honed their abilities of self-reliance to very great levels and overcome hurdles through sheer determination. And it is only through Aishwarya that you can become self-reliant. The word Hatha in the sense of obstinacy is relevant here. In everyday life, by inculcating the Aishwarya Bhava, you become immune to ordinary irritants. Through Aishwarya, we can realise the strength of God that is hidden within each one of us. This strength protects us from undesirable impulses, helps us gain a spirit of competition and rise from failure.

So, while performing this asana, you should create the Aishwarya Bhava and keep away all other thoughts and feelings.

(Note: This article is based on the principles advocated by The Yoga Institute, Santacruz)