Yoga Corner : Teaching Tools

Urdhva Dhanurasana Upward Bow Pose

Contraindications: Wrist injury, shoulder injury, neck injury, back injury, high blood pressure
When to introduce: After Ustrasana and Viparita Dandasana in the chair are learnt
Foundation: Feet and hands
Primary movement: Posterior tilt of the pelvis, extension of the spine
Rotations: Internal rotation of femurs, external rotation of humeri

About the Pose:  Urdhva Dhanurasana is a deeper backbend designed to open the chest and shoulders and bring circulation to the heart and lungs. It is an intermediate level backbend and should be learnt after there is sufficient strength in the spine and the principles of back bending are well integrated.

Instructions: Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, the space between your buttocks and heels no more than 6 inches. Place both feet and knees hip width apart with the big toes turned slightly in from the Tadasana foot position. This foot position is to ensure the internal rotation of the femurs.

Exhale, press down through the base of the big toes and inner edges of the heels. Inhale and bring your arms over head, placing the palms on the floor by either side of your head with the fingertips pointing directly towards your shoulders. Exhale, press firmly into the mounds of the thumbs and index fingers.

Keeping the foundation of the feet and hands, on an exhalation, posteriorly tilt the pelvis. Hug the lower inner thighs towards the midline and as you inhale resist the heels out to abduct the heads of the femurs and make space for the sacrum to move into the body. Then exhale to lift the pelvis up leading with the outer hips. As the pelvis lifts, also push down into the hands to lift the head and come on to the crown of the head. Resting on the crown of the head. Squeeze the inner elbows towards one another so that the elbows and shoulders are in line.

Pressing firmly through the hands and feet, keep the internal rotation of the legs, exhale, lift the hips evenly, leading from the outer hips to lift the pelvis. At the same time fully extend both arms. Keep lifting the chest. Do not straighten the legs.

To release from the pose, exhale, tuck your chin into the chest, bend the arms and lower down gently to the floor. Then roll to the right, inhale push into the hands to return to sitting.

Prepared and demonstrated by Donna Read
Donna would like to express gratitude to her teacher, Hart Lazer and to his teachers for their inspiration and wisdom.