Urdhva in Sanskrit means upward and Dhanur means bow. This position is better known as Upward-Facing Bow Pose.
A DEEPER INSIGHT
According to yogic books, Urdhva Dhanurasana belongs to the group of moderately demanding poses. However, taking into account how much time people spend in a sitting position today and how this affects the tightness of the upper part of the body, this pose can be characterized as a very demanding asana nowadays.
The Upward-Facing Bow Pose belongs to the back-bend poses but also to the group of poses that involve inversion, stretching, balance, and strength.
Accordingly, when practicing this pose, you must have complete focus during its execution.
Considering the complexity and demand of this asana, you work on balancing and opening your five chakras (from the third to the seventh).
Not just one element is attached to this pose, but several of them namely: thought, light, air, fire, and ether.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is used in different styles of yoga precisely because of its complexity and the many benefits it has for your body.
Before you start practicing this asana, our advice to you is to strengthen your arms if they are weak and work on opening your hips if they are closed.
We also advise you to work on strengthening your lower back muscles and your leg muscles.
You can certainly practice this asana without prior preparations for individual parts of the body (hips, arms, back, and legs). In that case, you can use yoga props if you still can’t do the asana completely.
A simple modified pose involves using a chair as a yoga prop. Make sure to use a chair without a back so that you can stretch your upper body by resting your back on the seat of the chair and relaxing your arms on the floor.
Thanks to this position, you are able stretch your back nicely. Try to stay in this position for a minute or two. Breathe in a three-layer position (stomach, lungs, and tops of lungs).
A second variation involves using yoga blocks and placing them under your palms. In this way, with the help of the blocks, you will be able to lift your upper body upward (hips and back).
When entering the full position, it is important that:
– Your feet should be firmly on the yoga mat, positioned hip-width apart.
– Your knees should be above and in line with the ankle joints.
– Your thighs should be parallel.
– Your legs are stretched as much as possible.
– Your coccyx and sacrum are elongated as much as possible.
– Your hips should be raised as much as possible, as far as possible from the thighs.
– Your chest should be as open as possible.
– Your shoulder blades should be as open as possible.
– Your neck should be stretched as much as possible.
– Your arms are stretched as much as possible and rotated to the side; the fingers of your hands are turned towards the body.
At first, it will be a challenge for you to follow all these guidelines properly.
Therefore, do not stress yourself too much; respect the current limits of your body. Work in the way that suits your body right now. That’s the only way that you’ll progress and avoid possible injuries.
If you entered the full pose, try to stay in it for between 30 and 60 seconds. You enter the pose by inhaling, and you exit the pose by exhaling.
This asana is considered to be the mother of all back-band asanas. If you want to eventually practice more demanding back-bend poses, Urdhva Dhanurasana is the first pose that you have to master completely when it comes to back-bend asanas.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is one of the few poses that is great for your entire body.
In terms of stretching and strengthening, this asana is perfect for your ankles and wrists, shoulders, arms, chest, back, legs, and neck.
Since it is a back-bend asana, you improve the circulation of your whole body by practicing it. You will definitely feel your circulation improving in certain parts of the body immediately upon entering the pose.
Thanks to the regular practice of this asana, your body will be more flexible, and you will be able to do certain movements with much greater ease than before.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is an excellent pose for opening your chest. Due to this fact, you will also be working on increasing your breathing capacity at the same time. Regular practice will allow you to inhale more oxygen.
Performing this asana correctly allows you to improve your posture. By performing this asana correctly, you will achieve a proper flow of prana throughout your body.
Due to the stretching of the whole body, the organs inside the abdominal cavity will function better and your digestive tract will improve.
Your thyroid gland will work more properly as a result of the neck stretch.
The work of your hormones, metabolism, and the entire endocrine system will be significantly improved by the regular practice of this asana.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is an excellent asana for improving your focus and concentration, energizing your whole body, and relieving stress.
However, if you recently had an injury or surgery on your shoulder or facing a constant lower back pain, you should avoid practicing this pose until further notice.
This also applies to people who recently had spinal surgery, have carpal tunnel syndrome, are pregnant, or have low or high blood pressure.
Don’t let all the benefits that this asana has for your body tempt you into practicing it if you are not yet physically ready to practice this pose.
During my long career as a yoga teacher, I had the opportunity to meet many practitioners who injured themselves doing asanas for which they were not physically ready yet, but their ego was “stronger” than their physical body at that moment.
In order not to make the same wrong steps and thereby distance yourself from exercising for a long period of time, I sincerely ask you to constantly monitor the limits of your body. Always be focused while performing the pose; don’t let your mind wander. Most importantly, don’t let your ego take control of your body.