Eka Pada Dhanurasana: One-Legged Bow Pose
Eka Pada Dhanurasana (aa-KAH pah-DAH don-your-AHS-anna), or One-Legged Bow pose, is sometimes confused with Natarajasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana with one leg lifted. While the shapes are similar, the benefit of Eka Pada Dhanurasana is that it’s more accessible. Practiced on the floor, generally on all fours or sometimes on the belly, this posture is a great way to prep for Natarajasana, Dhanurasana, and Urdhva Dhanurasana. You’ll find that this pose stretches the front of the body while giving the energetic benefits of backbends.
Philosophy + Origin
The power of the Bow pose is present in this one-legged variation. In fact, this posture might be even more powerful when it comes to focusing on finding balance in life and resisting taking on too much. In a world that glorifies multi-tasking, use Eka Pada Dhanurasana as a reminder to go one step, or one foot, at a time. Just as Dhanurasana helps you feel energized and ready to take on any task, Eka Pada Dhanurasana offers the same but with more balance. When reaching back for the opposite foot with your hand, think about the coordination required in your body and mind to make that happen. Can you use the same coordination to steadily go from one task to the next with grace and poise?
- If practicing on all fours feels too intense, approach this pose from the belly.
- Use a folded blanket or yoga mat for additional cushioning for the back knee.
- Rather than reaching for the foot with the opposite hand, reach back with your same hand for less intensity.
- Keep feet flexed to protect sensitive knees.
- If practicing on your belly, reach back with both hands for a more advanced posture.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:
- Knee, wrist or back injuries
It’s important to remember that this pose should activate the quadricep of the lifted leg. If you don’t engage your quadriceps muscles enough, you can strain on the knee joint, which can be uncomfortable and even lead to injury. Keeping the lifted foot flexed helps keep your thigh muscle engaged and protects the knee joint from unnecessary strain.
- Begin on all fours in the middle of your mat. Spread your fingers wide like you would for Adho Mukha Svanasana. Keep the tops of your feet flat on the ground rather than tucked under. Lower the gaze to align the neck with the spine.
- As you inhale, lift the right knee off the ground. Extend your lifted leg back, working to keep it parallel with the ground. Shift your weight into your right hand and your left foot, finding balance between the two sides while your leg is lifted.
- Start to lift your left hand off the mat, using your right hand, left foot, and core to keep you balanced. Keeping the thigh of the lifted leg parallel with the floor, begin to bend your knee so your right foot moves towards your buttocks. Reach back with the left hand to find the ankle of your right foot.
- Activate the right thigh to keep the pose from putting strain on your kneecap. Flex your right foot to activate the leg, spreading the toes away from each other as you do. Make sure your right elbow stays straight, engaging the triceps to prevent you from locking out your elbow.
- Keep the gaze down and slightly forward to prevent neck strain. Hold the pose for 30 seconds or more before releasing slowly. Return to all fours and notice the difference between sides. Repeat on the opposite side when ready.
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- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Urdhva Dhanurasana
- Eka = one
- Pada = foot
- Dhanu = bow
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens legs and back
- Lengthens hip flexors
- Stretches pelvis and quadriceps
- Improves balance and coordination
- Increases endurance
- Opens shoulder and chest
- Boosts energy
- Promotes confidence
- Balances the mind
- Improves mental focus
The word “dhyan” means focus. Increase your ability to focus on one task at a time by using this simple mantra: OM DHYANAYE OM. You can repeat it aloud or internally to resist distraction and reaction, allowing you to stay focused on your path to success.
MUDRA: Dhyana Mudra
Use this mudra to help bring your mind into a deep state of concentration and peace. To practice, sit comfortably with your hands resting in your lap with palms face up. Place your right hand on your left and join the thumbs together.
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