Urdhva Dhanurasana: Upward Facing Bow Pose

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Urdhva dhanurasana (OORD-vah don-your-AHS-ah-nah) is a deep backbend that can cultivate flexibility, strength, and patience.

Philosophy + Origin

Urdhva dhanurasana is thought to increase the vital life force in the body, specifically around the heart. When practiced regularly and with dedication, even if the “full” pose is never achieved, upward facing bow pose can awaken courage, compassion, and radiance in the mind and spirit.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Blocks on the wall: Place two blocks against a wall, about shoulder distance apart. Place your hands on the blocks as you move into urdhva dhanurasana to help elevate your upper body and better engage your shoulder blades.
  • Strap: Use a strap around your upper arms to prevent the elbows from splaying as you press upward.
  • Block: Place a block between your thighs to keep your lower body engaged.
  • One-legged: Try out eka pada urdhva dhanurasana by lifting up one leg at a time.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Lie on your your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, like you’re moving toward bridge pose.
  2. Place your palms on the ground beside your ears, fingertips facing your shoulders.
  3. Press into your feet, especially the big toe ball mound.
  4. Exhale to lift your tailbone and hips off the floor. Squeeze your thighs toward each other so your knees point straight ahead.
  5. Press into your hands to bring the crown of your head to the ground. Pause here for a breath.
  6. Draw your shoulder blades down your back while keeping elbows in line with shoulders. Press into your feet and hands equally.
  7. Exhale to straighten your arms and lift your head off the floor.
  8. Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other and down toward your mat (internal rotation). Lengthen your tailbone toward the back of your knees.
  9. Drop your head all the way back if comfortable.
  10. Hold the pose for up to a minute with a steady, long breath. Lower down and rest, option to repeat.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Urdhva = upward
  • Dhanu = bow
  • Asana = pose

BENEFITS:

  • Expands chest, lungs, and shoulders.
  • Stretches hip flexors, muscles of the abdomen, and wrists.
  • Strengthens glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles.
  • Thought to increase vitality.


Viparita Virabhadrasana: Reverse Warrior Pose

Virabhadrasana

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

In viparita virabhadrasana (VIP-uh-REE-tuh veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh), experience a member of the “warrior” family with an incredible opening in the side of the torso as well as the stretching the legs. By giving the side of your heart an opportunity to shine (as a side bend rather than a back bend), this posture offers all sorts of positive vibes, including a boost of self-esteem and perseverance.

Philosophy + Origin

The general definition of a warrior is someone who “engages in warfare,” which conjures up images of battlefields, weapons, and violence. The power of reverse warrior is to “turn around” this imagery to think about warriorship in different contexts. The idea of a peaceful warrior, or even a light warrior, is used in yoga to remind students that showing up with love and intention in day-to-day life is just as important, if not more so. When practicing reverse warrior, ask yourself to consider definitions or beliefs in your life from another perspective. There are two sides to each coin, and the better you know both sides, the better prepared you will be to live your life with steadiness, grace, and ease.

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