Hot Yoga: Bow Pose, Dhanurasana
A great pose for beginners, but not exactly easy!
Dhanurasana is a strong and active posture. To do this pose well, become free from strain in your neck, breathe slowly, and energize the legs so they can go up. Achieve a beautiful balance between strength and flexibility.

There's a potential for a breakthrough: you realize that sometimes when you give up resistance, you are able to go further.

Breathe slower, deeper, fuller.

The Bow strengthens the back, trains the spine and legs to work together, it makes the spine more elastic, opens the shoulders, chest, abs, and thighs. It stimulates the kidneys.

The Technique
In my Hot Yoga Evolution approach, the idea is to kick backward (away from you) in order to lift the torso. Then, as the spine arches back, the feet begin to kick back and up more, and the eyes can look backward to see the feet. The energy is now directed upward.

As much as the arms can help lift the legs up, it's the quadriceps muscles that are working a lot here. It is good to inhale to raise the upper body, exhale to move the feet straight up. As you kick to 'drive' the pose, roll forward slightly, so that the abdomen is on the floor, not the thighs.

Just before the end, take a deep inhale, energize more, and see if you can go further.

Common student mistakes and problems:
  • Arms bent (should be straight)
  • Wrists hooked (should be extended)
  • The knees too wide apart, the feet pointing in or ankles flexing back (the knees should be in line with hips, feet pointing directly upward)
  • The thighs don't lift of the floor (more time and patience required)
  • Students cannot reach both feet at the same time. (Option 1. Can the teacher carefully help grab the foot? Option 2. If not, and if they can reach only one foot at a time, do a one-legged Bow where one arm goes back to grab the foot, the other arm is in front them for support across the mat. One leg on the 1st set, then the other leg on the 2nd. Option 3. Replace the Bow with Full Locust or Bridge?)
  • Students look at themselves in the mirror. (Once the alignment has been checked in the mirror, the eyes should look up.)
  • Not good for pregnancy. (Replace with a gentle Bridge or Table Top.)
Want to do the "full" pose?

For teachers: once the spine, chest, and shoulders opened up, you can teach your students the Full Bow. How do you know who's ready? Spot the people who are able to see their feet overhead in the front mirror.

Here's a good hint: if they're close to seeing the feet, tell them to wiggle their toes and look back for the feet. Usually, now that they know where the feet are (from wiggling) they can look and inch further back and see the feet successfully.
The arms have to be extended back with an OUTWARD rotation, kind of like the Standing Bow, elbow in, palm out. On each foot, we grab the big toe with the thumb and forefinger.

Inhale and look up, exhale to kick into the hands. Bend the elbows to bring them towards the front mirror, serious shoulder flexibility is required for this. Eventually, the elbows will touch together. (Easy on the neck, please.) Come out carefully, undoing one elbow at a time.

Please note: my approach to Hot Yoga is rooted in the Barkan Method Hot Yoga, and all the good stuff has been gratefully received by me from my Teacher, Jimmy Barkan. See
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