Hatha Yoga Tip

AKARNA DHANURASANA – SHOOTING BOW – All levels, with variations

One leg is drawn back like an archer drawing a bow. One side of the body maintains a forward bend, and the hips and shoulder joints on the other side are opened up.

Start from forward bend Paschimotanasana, holding the big toes in the classical foothold wrap, which is wrapping the index finger around the big toes and the thumb on top of the toe. The other three fingers are curled into the palm). Inhale and bend the right knee, pulling the right foot back and up as close to your right ear as possible. Keep your raised elbow as high as possible. The left leg remains stretched out straight on the mat while you continue to hold the left big toe and keep the left foot in a flexed position. After a few breaths, release your right foot and repeat on the opposite side. Return to forward bend, then inclined plane.

Keep the head up in this pose and look straight ahead. Breathe slowly and deeply to help pull the leg further back and help you to balance more easily.

From this classic position, on an exhalation, you can release the leg like an arrow, shooting it forward heel first.

Variation 1
– Straight leg shooting bow
Starting from the forward bend, inhale and take the right leg straight up above your head, holding the right big toe, while keeping hold on the left foot or toe with the left hand and the left leg outstretched on the mat. After a few breaths, release and repeat on the other side.

Variation 2
– Diagonal shooting bow
Starting from the forward bend, cross the left arm over the right so each hand holds the opposite foot. Clasp the left big toe in your right hand, inhale, bend the left knee and pull the left foot to the chest or toward the right ear. Hold the right elbow up. After a few breaths, release and repeat on the opposite side. Cross the arms the other way and pull the right foot to the chest or toward the left ear.


Helps improve on your forward bend, whenever practicing the shooting bow, return to forward bend and then practice inclined plane for a counterpose.
Leg muscles are stretched and arms and legs strengthened.
Opens hips and shoulder joints.
A useful preliminary to the leg behind head pose.

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.

Pure, noble and good character or Sadachara forms an indispensable part of spiritual life. – Sri Swami Sivananda

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‘Sadachara’ means right conduct, morality or duty.
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