How to Do Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) in Yoga (2023)

Also Known As: Dhanurasana

Targets: Chest and back

Level: Intermediate

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) is an intermediate yoga pose similar to a backbend. It’s one of the 12 basic Hatha Yoga poses. By lifting your torso up and backward, the chest is opened and the back is deeply stretched. This pose is a great way to deeply stretch the back after a long day of hunching over.

This yoga pose can be performed as part of your regular practice or within a sequence of back stretches. After your body is warmed up from some standing and floor poses, perform Bow Pose. This pose can also be used as preparation for a deeper backbend stretch. A final relaxation pose follows nicely.

To get started, grab your yoga mat. If you are a beginner, you may also use a yoga towel or yoga straps to support you into the stretch.


Bow Pose primarily benefits the chest and back. It’s natural for the body to bend backward, but this is rarely a position we find ourselves in.

Bow Pose can be used to open up the chest and stretch out the back, which is especially beneficial for people who sit or stand for long periods of time.

This yoga pose also opens up the neck, shoulders, and abdomen. It improves flexibility in the back and encourages balance in the core and chest.

If you have a stiff back, Bow Pose may be beneficial. For people with a desk job, Bow Pose can help improve posture and alleviate the discomfort that slouching may cause.

How to Do Locust Pose (Salabhasana) in Yoga

(Video) How to Do a Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) | Yoga

Step-by-Step Instructions

You can perform Bow Pose on a yoga mat or carpeted floor. No equipment is necessary, but a yoga towel is optional.

  1. Lie flat on your stomach. Keep your chin on the mat and your hands at your sides. Your hands should be palm up.

  2. Exhale while you bend your knees. Bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks. Your knees should be hip-width apart.

  3. Lift your hands and take hold of your ankles. Be sure to grab the ankle and not the top part of the feet. Your fingers should wrap around the ankles, but your thumb does not. Keep your toes pointed.

  4. Inhale and lift the heels away from the buttocks, keeping a hold of your ankles. Simultaneously, lift your head, chest, and thighs away from the mat. As you lift, rotate your shoulders safely and comfortably. At this point, only your core should touch the mat, while the rest of your body is lifted towards the ceiling.

  5. Draw your tailbone into the mat to deepen the stretch. You should feel the stretch in your back as the weight and balance shifts to your core. Your chest and shoulders should feel open.

  6. Look straight ahead and hold the pose for about 15 seconds while you focus on stretching, breathing, and balancing.

  7. Exhale and release the pose. Lower your head, chest, thighs, and feet back towards the mat. Let go of your ankles and return to your hands to your side. Relax for a few seconds and repeat the pose as needed or continue to your next pose.

Common Mistakes

It’s important to avoid these errors to prevent injury and maintain proper form.

Don’t Hold the Tops of Your Feet

When you reach back with your hands, grab your ankles and not any other part of the foot. The ankle is the most secure part of the foot, whereas grabbing the top of the feet may lead to slipping. If your hands slip, you may lose balance and hit your chin or chest on the floor.

Keep Your Knees Hip-width

The width of your knees is an important part of Bow Pose proper form. When your knees are too close together, this may lead to discomfort in the back. It can also open up the hips incorrectly and lead to straining. Keeping your knees hip-width apart helps the body to align safely and comfortably.

(Video) How to Do Bow Pose - Dhanurasana

Rotate the Shoulder Socket Carefully

Bow Pose requires you to reach your arm back and then lift. Make sure you rotate your shoulder slowly and carefully through the movement. Rushing through the reaching and lifting of your arms can injure your shoulder or cause discomfort.

Release the Pose Safely

Entering and exiting Bow Pose can be tough for beginners and people with limited flexibility. Releasing the pose safely is vital to prevent injury and straining. Be sure to release the pose once you’ve lowered your head, chest, thighs, and feet. Releasing the pose when these body parts are lifted can cause a painful impact on the floor. Lower yourself slowly and then release your ankles when you can do so safely.

Don’t Hold Your Breath

In some yoga poses, holding your breath is part of the stretch and can be beneficial. Bow Pose does not require you to hold your breath. Follow the correct breathing pattern to benefit from this pose. Exhale as you bend into and out of the pose. Inhale when you lift up. Holding your breath may restrict the chest from opening up.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

Bow Pose is an intermediate yoga pose because it requires some flexibility. If you can’t grab onto your ankles securely, there are some modifications that may help you get started.

First, rest a yoga towel under your thighs. This will give you some lift so you can grab your ankles easier. You can also use yoga straps. Secure them around your ankles and hold onto the straps. This won’t bring your hands and ankles together, but it will bring them close together so you can perform the pose. With time, you may be able to perform Bow Pose without these modifications.

As you build your flexibility, you can ease into Bow Pose with Half Bow (Ardha Dhanurasana). In this modification, you will stretch one side of your body at a time. The left arm grabs the left ankle, then release and do the right side. This still provides the benefits of Bow Pose without requiring as much flexibility.

Up for a Challenge?

To make Bow Pose more challenging, try some of these techniques. Press your legs together. When your thighs, calves, and feet are touching, this pinches the shoulder blades together and encourages you to lift higher. You can also reach for the opposite ankles for an even deeper stretch.

Once you’ve mastered Bow Pose, you may be ready for Full Bow Pose (Purna Dhanurasana). This follows the same steps as Bow Pose, but it’s a deeper stretch. Instead of grabbing your ankles, you will grab your big toes in Full Bow Pose. Wrap your fingers around your big toes like you would your ankles. This is a more advanced pose and requires more stability.

Safety and Precautions

This pose should provide relief in your back. If you experience pain during this pose, back out of it safely.

If you have pre-existing back pain, neck pain, or injury, check with your doctor to see if you can perform this pose in your condition.

Pregnant women should not perform this pose as your weight shifts to the stomach.

Patients with a hernia, high blood pressure, or recent abdominal surgery are also advised to avoid this yoga pose.

(Video) How to do Bow Pose | Dhanuarasana Tutorial with Briohny Smyth

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

  • 8 Yoga Poses that Stretch Your Quads
  • Yoga Poses for Every Part of Your Body

How to Do Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) in Yoga (1)

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Why can't I do the bow pose in yoga? ›

Bow Pose is an intermediate yoga pose because it requires some flexibility. If you can't grab onto your ankles securely, there are some modifications that may help you get started. First, rest a yoga towel under your thighs. This will give you some lift so you can grab your ankles easier.

How do you train for a bow pose? ›

Ground your feet, and lift your hips. Squeeze your shoulders back toward each other, and use your legs to aim your sternum toward your chin. This motion should relieve stiffness in the back of your neck and shoulders. Keep your head completely relaxed, and hold for 8–10 breaths.

How to do Dhanurasana for beginners? ›

Roll your shoulders back and up. Bend your knees and reach back with your hands to clasp the outside of your ankles. (Be certain to reach back with both hands at the same time.)

Which asana is also known as bow pose? ›

Dhanurasana (Sanskrit: धनुरासन, romanized: Dhanurāsana, lit. 'Bow pose') is a back bending asana in hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise.

How many types of Dhanurasana are there? ›

Below we have compiled 33 pose variations of Dhanurasana at one place to give you ideas to plan your yoga classes as you interact with students of different levels.

Who should not do Dhanurasana? ›

Do not practice this asana if you have undergone any abdominal surgery recently. Avoid this asana if you have problems like high blood pressure, ulcers, migraine, headache or hernia.

What are the benefits of bow pose? ›

Dhanurasana, or the bow pose, is a complete yoga asana as it may help to tone the back and strengthen abdominal muscles. It also helps to stretch the front part of the body, including the abdomen and chest, ankles, thighs, throat, groins and hip flexors.

How long should you hold Dhanurasana? ›

Hold the pose for 15-20 seconds. To release the pose, exhale deeply and bring your legs and chest to the ground.

What are the disadvantages of Dhanurasana? ›

Any kind of neck injury including someone suffering from spondylitis. Someone with severe back pain or back injury . Too much pressure is on the abdominal area as the entire body is balancing, so people suffering from ulcers in stomach or someone with Hernia should avoid this pose.

Is Bow Pose a hip opener? ›

Opens the Hip Flexors

The added benefit of practicing Bow Pose as a hip opener is that you get to open both hips at the same time.

Why is it called Bow Pose? ›

The upper torso and head are lifted as well, so the body balances on the abdomen, gaze pointed forward. This pose has been named after the shape the body takes – that of a bow.

What are the 5 benefits of Dhanurasana? ›

Dhanurasana Benefits
  • Stretches the abdominal muscles and improves the digestion process.
  • Improves the strength in your ankles, thighs, chest, neck and shoulders.
  • Helps tone your abdominal region.
  • Tones your back and improves spinal flexibility.
  • Helps open up your chest region and facilitates better breathing.
Dec 23, 2021

Is bow pose easy? ›

Easy Bow Pose Benefits

Easy Bow Pose is a beginner level yoga pose that is performed in prone position. Easy Bow Pose additionally involves back-bend, Stretch, Strength.

How to increase face glow by yoga? ›

5 Easy Yoga Asanas That'll Help You Get Glowing Skin
  1. Halasana (Plow Pose)
  2. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
  3. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  4. Bharadvajasana (Torso Stretch Pose)
  5. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Jan 19, 2022

Which muscles are involved in Dhanurasana? ›

The shoulders flex in Urdhva Dhanurasana, stretching the muscles that extend the shoulders. These include the posterior deltoids, the latissimus dorsi, part of the pectoralis major, and the coracobrachialis. Extending the elbows stretches the biceps and brachialis muscles.

How long should I do Dhanurasana? ›

Hold the pose for 12-15 seconds, paying attention to your breath as you take long, deep ones. 5. Slowly bring your chest and legs back to the ground, release your hold on the ankles, and relax with your hands on the side. Repeat for a few sets.

What is the main advantage of Dhanurasana? ›

Dhanurasana stretches the foot and hand muscles, and tones the leg and arm muscles and strengthens them. This yoga posture can alleviate stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It can also help in reducing the symptoms of depression by controlling the level of the cortisol hormone.

What should be avoided during yoga? ›

  1. Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, in a hurry or in an acute stress conditions.
  2. Women should refrain from regular yoga practice especially asanas during their menses. ...
  3. Don't perform yoga immediately after meals. ...
  4. Don't shower or drink water or eat food for 30 minutes after doing yoga.

Does Dhanurasana reduce breast size? ›

Dhanurasana. Also known as the Bow Pose, this is yet another back-bending asana. By stretching the front part of your body, it reduces breast size safely and quickly.

Is bowing a good exercise? ›

Strengthens your upper back.

Bow pose engages all of your back muscles as you reach back to grab your ankles, strengthening the back, and improving posture and mobility.

Which asana is hardest? ›

Handstand is considered the most difficult yoga asana, among others, and splitting legs makes the pose more challenging.

Is Dhanurasana good for back pain? ›

2) Dhanurasana or the Bow Pose

Bow Pose is one of the best back pain relief exercises asana, the body takes the shape of a bow. Dhanur means bow in Sanskrit and asana means pose.


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