Lie flat on stomach. Bend knees. Hold ankles with both hands. Inhale and raise chest as well thighs off the ground. Hold for as long as possible.
Dhanurasana (bow pose)
1. Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body.
2. Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Clasp the hands around the ankles. Place the chin on the floor. This is the starting position.
3. Tense the leg muscles and push the feet away from the body.
4. Arch the back, lifting the thighs, chest and head together. Keep the arms straight.
5. In the final position the head is tilted back and the abdomen supports the entire body on the floor. The only muscular contraction is in the legs; the back and arms remain relaxed.
6. Hold the final position for as long as is comfortable and then, slowly relaxing the leg muscles, lower the legs, chest and head to the starting position.
7. Release the pose and relax in the prone position until the respiration returns to normal. This is one round.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Inhale deeply in the starting position. Retain the breath while raising the body. Retain the breath inside in the final position or practise slow, deep breathing so that the body rocks gently in unison with the breath. Exhale while returning to the prone position.
Duration: 3 to 5 rounds.
Physical - on the abdominal region, the back, or the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the abdomen to the slow, deep breathing.
Spiritual - on vishuddhi, anahata or manipura chakra.
Sequence: Dhanurasana is ideally practised after bhujangasana and shalabhasana and should be followed by a forward bending posture. It should not be practised until at least three or four hours after a meal.
Contra-indications: People who suffer from a weak heart, high blood pressure, hernia, colitis, peptic or duodenal ulcers should not attempt this practice. This asana should not be practised before sleep at night as it stimulates the adrenal glands and the sympathetic nervous system.
Benefits: The entire alimentary canal is reconditioned by this asana. The liver, abdominal organs and muscles are massaged. The pancreas and adrenal glands are toned, balancing their secretions. The kidneys are massaged and excess weight is reduced around the abdominal area. This leads to improved functioning of the digestive, eliminative and reproductive organs and helps to remove gastrointestinal disorders, dyspepsia, chronic constipation and sluggishness of the liver. It is recommended in yoga therapy for the management of diabetes, incontinence, colitis, menstrual disorders and, under special guidance, cervical spondylitis. It improves blood circulation generally. The spinal column is realigned and the ligaments, muscles and nerves are given a good stretch, removing stiffness. It helps correct hunching of the thoracic area of the spine. Dhanurasana is useful for relieving various chest ailments, including asthma, and for freeing nervous energy in the cervical and thoracic sympathetic nerves, generally improving respiration.