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Upward-Facing Bow (<i>Urdhva Dhanurasana</i>)

Upward-Facing Bow (Urdhva Dhanurasana)



How do I do the pose?
What are the benefits of doing Upward-Facing Bow pose?
Any precautions?
Terms from the video explained
Click here to watch the video


How do I do the pose?
Try the modified pose first.

Lay on your back with knees raised. Place your feet close to hips with your knees about hip distance apart. Tuck your tailbone under so that your lower back is pressed into the floor. Inhale and lift your hips off the floor as you keep your tailbone tucked under. Tighten your buttocks as you keep lifting. Inhale and stretch your chest open, exhale and roll your shoulders under and interlock your fingers, if you can. Take a deep breath, exhale, and gently roll down, walking your shoulders out as you roll down your spine and bring your hips to the ground.

Now try the full pose.

Lay on your back with knees raised. Place your feet close to hips with your knees about hip distance apart. Place your hands behind your shoulders with fingers facing your body. Push away from the floor with your hands and feet. Your body should be completely off the floor. Breathe. When you're ready to release the pose, roll down to the floor, shoulders first, then roll your spine down one vertebra at a time. Inhale, pull knees into chest, and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale, place feet back on the floor and relax your arms and shoulders. back to top

What are the benefits of doing Upward-Facing Bow pose?
The Upward-Facing Bow is a back bend that increases the strength and flexibility of the spine and back while toning the legs and buttocks. The chest, shoulders, and ribcage open, releasing "held emotions," stress, and tension. back to top

Any precautions?
Squeeze your butt and press up with your legs to take the pressure off your lower back. If this hurts your lower back, don't do the full posture. Practice the modification until you have developed the strength and flexibility to practice this posture safely. This pose is not recommended for girls who have spinal problems such as a herniated disk or scoliosis. Most yogis say you should not practice inverted postures (poses where the head is below the hips) when you have your period.

After practicing an intense back bend, yogis practice an equally intense forward bend such as Child's pose. In this case, the forward bend is called a "counterpose." The purpose of a counterpose is to relax the back and release any tension or compression that you may feel, especially in the lower back.back to top

Terms from the video explained
  • Tailbone: The tailbone (coccyx) is the tip of the spine. When practicing Upward-Facing Bow, remember to tuck the tailbone, draw in your lower belly, and squeeze your glutes (butt) to protect the spine.
  • Heart Opener: Yogis refer to the chest or the area behind the center of the breastbone (sternum) as the "heart." They are not referring to the actual heart organ. Postures that expand the chest are said to open the "heart" and release stress from the neck and shoulders and feelings that are troubling you (called "held emotions").
  • Full Posture: Yoga postures include modifications to make them accessible to almost everyone, regardless of your strength or flexibility. When you are learning challenging poses such as Upward-Facing Bow, teachers have you begin with a modified pose. Once you are strong and flexible enough to advance, you may move into the full posture. The instructor demonstrates this principle in the video. back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/19/2001