Urdhva Dhanurasana: Upward Facing Bow Pose
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.
- 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.
- Lie on your your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, like you’re moving toward bridge pose.
- Place your palms on the ground beside your ears, fingertips facing your shoulders.
- Press into your feet, especially the big toe ball mound.
- Exhale to lift your tailbone and hips off the floor. Squeeze your thighs toward each other so your knees point straight ahead.
- Press into your hands to bring the crown of your head to the ground. Pause here for a breath.
- Draw your shoulder blades down your back while keeping elbows in line with shoulders. Press into your feet and hands equally.
- Exhale to straighten your arms and lift your head off the floor.
- Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other and down toward your mat (internal rotation). Lengthen your tailbone toward the back of your knees.
- Drop your head all the way back if comfortable.
- Hold the pose for up to a minute with a steady, long breath. Lower down and rest, option to repeat.
- Bridge pose | Setu bandha sarvangasana
- Camel pose | Ustrasana
- Upward facing dog | Urdhva mukha svanasana
- Head to knee pose | Janu sirsasana
- Knees to chest pose | Apanasana
- Urdhva = upward
- Dhanu = bow
- Asana = pose
- 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.
Side Lunge Pose
Side lunge is an aesthetically beautiful pose and a wonderful release for the legs and low back. This pose is sometimes referred to as skandasana.
Philosophy + Origin
Side lunge pose can be a wonderful way to begin to understand the concept of a “moving prayer,” especially when you allow the body to flow freely from one side to the other. While malas (prayer beads) are used in many spiritual practices as a way to help keep the mind engaged, repetitive physical movement can have the same effect. Whether you practice a flowing version of side lunge pose, or use the posture as part of a salutation, give your body and mind enough time to find rhythm and ease so that you can enjoy the benefits of a physical embodiment of prayer and meditation.