The Urdhva Dhanurasana is a backbend and also an asana that forms a part of the trailing off exercises in an Ashtanga Yoga regimen. It is also called the Chakrasana or the Wheel Pose, apart from being called the Upward Facing Bow Pose. When the pose is assumed, it resembles a wheel or an upward facing bow. This asana is known to give the spine great flexibility. When done as a part of an acrobatic or a gymnastic routine, it is called the back bridge.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing high or low blood pressure, headaches, diarrhea, or heart problems. Also avoid this pose if you have a back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
How To Do The Urdhva Dhanurasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Lie flat on your back on the floor. You may bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are on the floor and closer to your buttocks. Make sure that your feet are hip-width apart.
- Your hands must be placed behind your shoulders, ensuring your fingers are opened up and pointed towards your shoulders.
- Once you feel comfortable in this stance, balance your weight on your limbs. Then, press your feet and palms, and lift your entire body off the mat. Let your head hang gently. Your neck should be long.
- Make sure you breathe comfortably. Take slow, deep breaths.
- Hold the pose for a minute, or as long as you are comfortable. Then, release by bending your arms and legs, and gently lowering your back on the ground. Lie down in Shavasana for a few minutes before you resume normal activity or continue with your workout.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose and you’ll be on your way to opening your whole body with ease:
- Do not attempt to learn Upward Bow on your own. Instead, learn the pose from a qualified and knowledgeable instructor who can provide you with guidance on the correct alignment before you try the pose solo.
- Keep your elbows and knees hugging toward the center line of your body.
- Keep your feet parallel.
- If your arms or shoulders start to feel fatigued, you will lose the integrity of the pose. Ease up for a bit and practice again when you have more strength.
- As with all backbends, it’s important to create length between your vertebrae. Imagine your spine lifting and lengthening, instead of simply folding backwards.
- Give your ego a rest! Attempting to muscle your way into the pose simply to achieve a deeper backbend can quickly lead to injury (even if it’s just a bruised ego). Upward Bow requires inner strength and flexibility as much as pure, physical prowess.
The knees and feet tend to splay as you lift into this pose, which compresses the lower back. In the beginning position, loop and secure a strap around your thighs, just above the knees, to hold the thighs at hip width and parallel to each other. To keep the feet from turning out, place a block between them, with the bases of the big toes pressing the ends of the block. As you go up, press the feet into the block.
Modifications & Variations
- Often the armpits and/or groins are tight and restrict full movement into this pose. You can support either your hands or feet on a pair of blocks to help yourself realize the full backbend. Be sure to brace the blocks against a wall, and if you like, cover them with a sticky mat to keep the hands or feet from slipping.
- Once in the pose, lift your heels away from the floor and press your tailbone toward the ceiling. Walk the feet a little closer to the hands. Then, from the height of the tailbone, press the heels into the floor again. This will increase the depth of the backbend.
Benefits Of The Urdhva Dhanurasana
- It is known to give relief to some lower back pains.
- It is known to stimulate the pituitary and thyroid glands.
- It gives your lungs and chest a good stretch. It also expands the shoulders and the chest.
- This asana also gives strength to your legs, abdomen, buttocks, spine, shoulder blades, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, wrists, and arms.
- Practicing this asana also gives a good stretch to your hip flexors, your core, and your wrist flexors.
- It cures infertility, asthma, and osteoporosis.
It also relieves stress and reduces depression, and makes you feel energetic and full of life.
Upward Bow can be an energizing, uplifting, and emotionally satisfying yoga posture, but it can take a significant amount of practice — perhaps years — to accomplish the full expression of the pose. Practicing Upward Bow is a reminder of the true heart of yoga. It takes patience and awareness to stay focused on the present moment and to accept your current circumstances, instead of always wanting to be somewhere else.