Dhanurasana (DAH-noo-RAH-suh-nuh) is an excellent back bending yoga pose for increasing and regaining spinal strength and flexibility. It invigorates the internal organs, especially the digestive organs, therefore removing constipation. It also stimulates the adrenal glands and the sympathetic nervous system. This pose expands the chest and strengthens the lungs, making it a good pose for those with asthma and respiratory problems. Dhanurasana also strengthens the leg muscles, especially the upper thighs, relieves stiff shoulders and reduces excess weight around the abdominal area. This pose is recommended for those with diabetes, incontinence and menstrual disorder.
This asana gives strength to the mind. Generally we have less awareness of the back body; this asana gives us courage and strength to move towards the unknown. In the Epic Ramayana Lord Shiva had made a very strong bow and gifted it to Rcika then to Sage Jamadagni then to Lord Parasrurama and then to King Janaka. The bow was so heavy that it needed 300 men to carry it.
King Janaka’s daughter was playing with a ball that fell into the box where the bow was kept. Princess Sita lifted the bow single handily, and on seeing this scene, King Janaka decided to give his daughter to a prince who could break the bow.
The Sage Vishwamithra took Rama and Lakshmana to the palace of King Janaka for a special fire ceremony (yajna).The bow was exhibited in the ceremony. King Janaka while narrating the history of the bow, made an offer saying that his daughter Princess Sita will be given in marriage to anyone who could break the bow.
Now, King Janaka said to Vishwamithra to call his young students to see the bow and to try to string the bow and get his daughter’s hand in marriage. Some princes tried but failed even to lift the bow. Then Sage Viswamithra signalled Lord Rama, and Rama used only one hand and broke the bow into two pieces. Everyone clapped and flowers came from heaven.
Sita was very strong and could lift the bow of Lord Shiva, but the prince would need to be stronger than her to break the bow. From this story the bow represents strength and the ability to go out of our comfort zone to reach the heights of our yoga practice. Lord Rama represents our determination and Princess Sita represents the gift of calmness when we put efforts into our practice.
Avoid this pose when you have a headache or migraine. Women who are menstruating or pregnant should avoid this pose. Those with neck injuries or pain should keep the head up right. This pose should not be done when suffering from any stomach ulcer or diarrhea. Make sure students continue normal breathing and do not hold their breath in this pose as this can result in heaviness in the head. Keep the legs and arms firm to avoid any load bearing directly on the spine.