Michael Eley guides us through Standing Bow Pose (Dandayamana Dhanurasana), a standing pose that is one of the 26 poses of Bikram yoga.
Benefits of Standing Bow Pose
This posture has so many benefits. It’s an asymmetrical one leg balancing pose which improves focus and concentration, and of course balance. It stretches and strengthens the muscles of the legs and hips. It improves the strength and flexibility of the lower spine – and the more you stretch the front arm forward, the more you stretch the scapulas apart which helps to release tension in the neck while improving shoulder flexibility. It’s also a twist for the thoracic spine which is good for the digestive system and internal organs, toning the abdominal wall.
Like all standing poses, the base of Standing Bow Pose is so important. Make sure you distribute the bodyweight evenly over the standing foot, that the standing leg is as straight as possible, and that the leg muscles are fully engaged. The posture is a balance of opposite forces – the kick backwards and the stretch forward – they need to done equally to maintain balance and to maximise the therapeutic benefits of the posture.
- Use a mirror. Especially if you don’t normally use one, it’s really useful to check the alignment – that the kicking foot’s coming up over the top of the head and the toes are pointing up towards the ceiling, and that the head’s not twisting.
- You can also practice the parts – practice the splits on the floor and work on the backbend to improve the flexibility aspect of the posture without worrying about the balance.
- And the key is practice! I never did gymnastics or dance when I was young but I’ve practiced yoga (and this posture) for a long, long time!
Awareness must be on the breath, especially as the posture develops. Use a big inhale to charge up as you start the movement. I find that the deeper I go into the posture the more I have to bring awareness to how I’m breathing. The lower the body comes down, the greater the load on the circulatory system, so the heart rate goes up. The combination of concentrating on the technique, bringing conscious awareness to each and every movement and the focus on the breath means that the posture becomes a meditation.