Hatha Yoga Tip
DHANURASANA – The Bow – All levels
A bow shaped pose combining benefits of cobra and locust.
The full bow pose involves a good back contraction and stretch to thighs. An option for those who find it difficult to catch hold of both ankles, is to attempt the pose with one knee bent, holding on one ankle at a time. This is also a good way to work on increasing the stretch in each thigh before going on to the full version holding both ankles. Begin lying on the abdomen, stretch out legs on mat and arms in front, rest on forehead. Bend the right knee, reach behind and take hold of the right ankle with the right hand. On an inhalation, contract the back and push up the right leg as high as possible while keeping hold of the ankle, the arm is straight. Simultaneously lift up the head and chest. Keep the left arm and hand stretched out in front on the mat to support the body. Release with an exhalation. Repeat with the left knee bent, holding on the left ankle.
For the complete bow, lie on the abdomen with forehead on mat, keep knees apart, bend both knees and catch hold of the ankles. Keep the arms stretched out straight but relax the feet. Then with an inhalation, come into the full bow pose. Contract the back muscles, keep pushing the feet high and the knees will come high off the mat. Lift the head simultaneously, and look up. The arms are both straight, shoulders back. Tip- keep both feet at equal height. Adjust if necessary. Hold a few breaths and then exhale and release the pose. Lower first the head, chest and thighs to the mat, then release the ankles last. Relax in child’s pose.
Rocking Bow Variation:
A variation can be added, by rocking on the front of the body in full pose. This requires more lift in the chest (more flexibility) and head and more contraction in the back muscles to start the rocking movement back onto thighs. Begin with a full inhalation, rock back, then exhale strongly and use arms and shoulders to pull body forward onto abdomen and chest. Repeat this rocking motion 3-6 times before releasing the pose as before.
Tones back muscles
Counteracts curvature of spine as in kyphosis so helps with posture and keeps spine supple.
Strengthens and stretches quadriceps muscles of thighs.
Keeps hips and shoulder joints flexible.
Helps gastrointestinal disorders, digestion, constipation and energizes female reproductive system.
A mentally energizing posture.
This yoga asana is an edited contribution for the Sivananda Gurugram partly sourced and edited from the Sivananda Publication: “Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion” – Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre – 2010.
Love knows no reward. – Sri Swami Sivananda
There is no virtue like Truthfulness. – Sri Swami Sivananda
APANA – a vayu; the negative vital air; the opposite to prana (positive vital air)
Hatha Yoga means the Yoga or union between ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’. ‘Ha’ means the sun. ‘Tha’ means the moon. Prana is known by the name of sun. Apana is known by the name of moon. Hatha Yoga is the union of the Prana and the Apana.
KUMBHAKA – retention of breath during pranayama practice; a pause where there is no exhalation and no inhalation.
When both air currents are completely stopped, one is said to be in Kumbhaka. Through Kevala Kumbhaka, the knowledge of Kundalini arises. Kundalini is aroused and the Sushumna is free from all sorts of obstacles, attaining perfection in Hatha Yoga. You can practice this Kumbhaka three times a day. He who knows Pranayama and Kevala is the real Yogi. This Kumbhaka cures all diseases and promotes longevity.
Saturate your mind with divine thoughts. – Sri Swami Sivananda