Definition: Balancing on your abdomen, in the shape of a bow.
The Bow is the 3rd and final asana in the back bend series after the Cobra and the Locust. It works all parts of your back simultaneously. In this asana, your head, chest, and legs are lifted, while your body rests on your abdomen. The pose is so named because as you hold it, your body is bent back like a bow and your arms are held straight and taut like a bowstring. Initially, you best attempt only the first 3 steps, moving on to the Rocking Bow when you have become more confident and flexible.
Preparation: frontal corpse pose or crocodile (Makarasana)
Before and after all asanas you must relax for as long as necessary. The position that you adopt for relaxing between back bends is a variation on the Corpse Pose (Savasana), in which you lie on your front. Like all Corpse variations, this pose prepares you mentally and physically for performing an asana.
Head: Your hands make a pillow on which you can rest your head as you relax in this position, look to one direction and then close your eyes.
Feet: bring your big toes together; let your heels and ankles fall gently out to either side as to relax your legs and hips.
Step 1 – Catch your ankles
To begin, lie on your front with your forehead on the ground. Now bend your knees and catch hold of your ankles. Make sure that you do grasp your ankles rather than the top of your feet or your toes. Keep your feet relaxed. Your body is balancing on your belly button.
Step 2 – Lift your body up
Inhale, bring your knees of the floor, then your head and chest. Straighten your knees as much as possible, keep your shoulders low, your arms stretched. Try to hold for at least 10 seconds, aiming to increase to 30 seconds. Breathe as you hold the pose. Come out of the pose on an exhalation and go back into the preparation pose: Makarasana and look to the opposite direction to relax your neck. You can repeat up to 3 times.
Advanced pose : Rocking Bow
For this variation, come into the Bow, arching as high as you can. Keep your head back and gently rock, using your breath to propel your body. Exhale as you rock forward, and inhale as you rock back. Do not forget to relax in the Corpse Pose on your front after you have completed this movement. Grip: Hold your ankles firmly as you rock.
- Increases strength and flexibility along the entire length of the spine
- Stretches the neck, shoulders, arms and legs
- Combines the benefits of the Cobra and the Locust postures
- Massages the digestive organs, relieving constipation & improves digestion
- Relieves menstrual discomfort and constipation
- Increases the appetite
- Helps regulate the pancreas and is recommended for people with diabetes
- Expands the thoracic region of the chest
- Helps alleviate hunchback
Energetic (Pranic) Benefits
- Stimulates Manipura chakra
- Increases the digestive fire
- Improves concentration
Sources: Sivananda & © Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy