Dhanurasana or Bow Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Bow Pose
धनुरासन/ Dhanurasana
dhanura: “bow”
āsana: “posture”

Dhanurasana at a Glance

Dhanurasana, or the Bow Pose, is a yoga asana in Hatha yoga that offers a complete health package for the body. It is called Dhanurasana because the body takes the shape of a bow during the posture. This pose is particularly helpful for people with sedentary lifestyles.


  • Strengthens and tones the upper body, back, and lower back, improving flexibility.
  • This backbend pose opens the chest, making your shoulder blades more flexible.
  • It massages and tones your abdominal muscles, helps with better digestion, and strengthens your leg and arm muscles.
  • It almost strengthens and improves the flexibility of the entire body.

Who can do it?

Dhanurasana bow pose can be done by beginners, kids, teenagers, Middle-aged people, and people of 50 plus age can also perform under the guidance of a professional yoga trainer. People with desk jobs and sedentary lifestyles can perform this yoga pose to feel the change in their health.

Who should not do it?

People with back, ankle, knee, and neck injuries should avoid doing Dhanurasana. Any recent abdominal surgeries should avoid doing this asana. People with carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid doing it. During pregnancy, you should avoid doing a Bow Pose.

How to Do Dhanurasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

To do the bow pose, you need to have a normal physique, and no equipment is needed, yet it would give all the required benefits to your entire body.

  1. Remember to start the Dhanurasana pose by lying flat on a yoga mat on the floor or any soft surface, and do some warm-up or preparatory poses (Cobra or Locust) before you start the bow pose.
  2. Sit on the mat and take a few deep breaths. Come to the prone position with your forehead down, your arms at your side, and your body palm facing up. And legs straight.
  3. Be relaxed, take a few breaths, and fold your knees with a space between your knees (hip distance), your heels pointing to your buttocks, and bringing your feet to your lower back.
  4. Remove your right and left hand to reach your ankles and catch your ankle. Take a firm, proper grip and hold your right and left ankle from the sides.
  5. Adjust yourself with the ankle grip, inhale deeply and try lifting your chest slowly away from the mat upwards in coordination. Lift your legs away from your buttocks(upwards), and see that your knees and thighs slowly leave the mat.
  6. This step would create your body in a Dhanurasana bow pose yoga.
  7. Gaze forward and slightly upward, raising your chest and legs above the yoga mat(floor).
  8. You can be in the Dhanurasana pose for a few seconds, feeling the stretch in your back, opening your chest, and the stretch in the legs and thigh muscles.
  9. To come out of the Dhanurasana pose, slowly exhale, leave the grip of your ankles one by one, come down to the prone posture, keep your hands on your sides and legs relaxed, and relax your whole body. Take a few deep breaths.
  10. You can relax by approaching the child’s or Crocodile pose.
  11. While holding the Dhanurasana pose, be aware of your breath and keep breathing throughout.
  12. Ensure you don’t force your body or forcefully stretch or pull to reach the pose. Listen to your body and act slowly while doing the Dhanurasana or bow pose.

What are the Benefits of Dhanurasana?

  • Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) gives your back and abdominal muscles a good stretching, massaging, toning, and strengthening workout.
  • Bow pose keeps you fresh and active and increases your self-awareness.
  • Bow pose is good for keeping your body posture intact or improving your body posture.
  • This is good for your digestive organs, as this pose activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, giving your abdominal muscles good pressure, which improves the functions of the stomach, liver, pancreas and digestion.       
  • This yoga practice relieves your lower back pain, strengthens it, and helps with your hunchback.
  • It adds more flexibility to your shoulder joints.
  • This pose stimulates your reproductive organs and helps with menstrual discomfort and pain.
  • It is helpful for people sitting for long hours of work, improves spinal health and helps the hip flexors be more flexible.
  • This increases your concentration your confidence level and improves your focus on your work.
  • It can also improve the kidney function, which helps to remove the toxins from your body.
  • Many benefits are added to this pose, but this happens only through regular yoga practice.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Dhanurasana

There are many health benefits from all yoga asanas, and this is one of the yoga poses that can offer the entire body great benefits.

Diabetic People

It is seen that regular practice of Dhanurasana can keep your blood sugar level balanced, keeping you healthy.


As this is good for your spine by strengthening and making it flexible, it also helps your neck, lower and upper back, leg, thigh and shoulder muscles. It adds good flexibility to your arm muscles too.

Desk Jobs

People working with their system throughout the day end up with stiffness in their body, tiredness and stiffness in their shoulder blades. For them, this is the best medicine if they keep this in their routine exercise.

Constipation Problems

This yoga pose gives a good stretch and massages your abdominal organs, which helps in better digestion, keeping your gas, bloating, and constipation issues away.

Improvement in Body Posture

Regularly practicing this asana improves your spinal flexibility and maintains a straight spine, improving your body posture.

Back and Shoulder

Dhanurasana stretches and strengthens the back muscles, which reduces the pain and comforts it. It mobilizes your shoulders.

Stress and Anxiety

Dhanurasana’s deep stretch of the internal and external organs coordinated with breath helps us fight our stress and Anxiety issues. It keeps us calm.

Breathing Issues

Taking deep breaths in this pose helps to enhance lung capacity, which improves breathing functions. It can help people with asthma.

Safety and Precautions

  • People having High BP, severe back pain, migraine or abdominal surgery should avoid doing it.
  • If this is your first time doing this asana or you have any health issues, it is better to consult your healthcare professional, and first-timers should do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher. 
  • Warm is the best pre-workout for any yoga pose and it’s not different for this. Doing a warm-up pose for this is mandatory as it will loosen and stretch your muscles.
  • It should be practiced best before or after 4 to 5 hours of your meal.
  • Props(yoga belts or straps to hold the ankle) support you to get through the starting phase when your flexibility is less and gradually. You can do without props.
  • Don’t try to arch your back too much. This can hurt your back instead of giving relief. Just be gentle on your back.
  • Keep breathing all along the pose.
  • Pregnant women should avoid doing it.

Common Mistakes

  • Forcing your body more than your flexibility level.
  • Don’t keep holding your breath. It’s the energy that should be flowing throughout the pose.
  • Use props if needed.
  • Do a warm-up or the preparatory pose before starting the Bow pose.
  • You should focus on engaging the core, or else you may strain your lower back.
  • Keep engaging your leg muscles to help you with a better pose.
  • Keep it slow while you start the Bow pose or when you Exit the Dhanurasana pose.
  • The grip on your ankles should be gentle, firm, and not too tight, hurting your ankle or wrist.

Tips for Dhanurasana

  • The first and foremost is to listen and respect your body to go through the smooth process.
  • Never forget to do a Warm-up, or you will hurt yourself.
  • Don’t rush to start or finish the bow pose.
  • While doing this Bow pose, Imagine and feel the bow and do it.
  • If you feel challenged, start with a variation pose and gradually enter the Bow pose.
  • Beginner or experienced, you should practice regularly to improve your flexibility and strengthen your body.
  • If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask or discuss with your yoga trainer.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Dhanurasana

  • Without proper alignment, getting the proper pose wouldn’t be possible; even if you get it, you may hurt yourself because of improper body alignment.
  • You should lie flat on your belly in the prone pose.
  • Keep your knees hip-width apart.
  • Legs should be bent towards the buttocks (heels near the buttocks).
  • Toes should point upwards and flex your feet.
  • Extend your arms fully to your back.
  • Catch hold of your right and left leg ankles from the outer side (thumbs outside and fingers around the ankle). Hold the ankle firmly.
  • Don’t forget to engage your core muscles. This will support your lower back.
  • Breath is important for the proper alignment. Inhale when you lift your chest.
  • When you lift your upper body, look slightly upward.
  • Lift both the legs equally.
  • Don’t try to arch too much. Then your body lets you too.
  • Don’t shrug your shoulders. Keep it relaxed.
  • Keep your pelvis neutral to avoid hurting your lower back.

Dhanurasana and Breath

  • Breathe with lead the path to proper alignment and perform the pose easily.
  • Inhaling and exhaling are important for any yoga pose and the same for the Bow pose.
  • Breathe when you prepare yourself in the prone pose. Inhale deeply while you start the pose and exhale through your mouth or nose.
  • Inhale and bend your knees, catch the ankle and breathe out.
  • Now breathe in deeply while you lift yourself. Inhale open your chest and shoulders.
  • Every time you breathe in, try to lift your thighs and chest a bit.
  • While set in the pose, breathe gently, slowly, and steadily to maintain the Bow pose.
  • Breathe out and release the legs, chest and forehead onto the mat.

Dhanurasana Variations

Even when you modify or do the variations, listen to your body and take it slowly.

One-legged Bow pose

Start by holding both ankles after coming to the prone posture and then leave one ankle. These stretch one side of the body, and you can do it on the other.

Easy Bow Pose

In this, you can bend your knees by keeping your thighs on the floor, bring your arms back and interlock your hands.

Half Bow Pose (Ardha Dhanurasana)

This is by holding one leg at a time. The other hand should be straight in front of you.

Side Bow Pose

This asana is done by lying on one side, holding and stretching the ankles.

Bow Pose with Support

You can use a cushion to support your thighs, making it easy to lift your legs. You can also use a yoga strap to the ankle. Tie the yoga strap to your ankle and hold the other end with your hands.

Shooting Bow Pose

This is a challenging variation pose.

Dynamic Bow Pose

You can rock your body front and back in this challenging pose after holding the ankles.

Take Away

Dhanurasana or the Bow Pose gives you a lot of benefits for your whole body and mind. Dhanurasana pose is a full health package for your body. It helps you strengthen your belly area, strengthens your back and makes it more flexible.  It gives your abdominal organs a good massage, activating a better digestion process and keeping you away from constipation and gas. Bow pose also helps to release neck tension and keeps your shoulders flexible.

Your legs get stronger, tones your thigh muscles and it even works on your pelvic floor muscles.

All can do this pose, as you can modify and go for easy or challenging variations according to your level. Proper alignment and breathing throughout the pose can make it effective and easy. If you are a beginner, start under the trained yoga teacher and in case of any medical concern, consult your healthcare provider before starting this asana.

Dhanurasana or Bow Pose can help you focus better in your yoga practice and daily life. It also helps you better understand your body and mind, making you more aware of your discomfort.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.


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