Dhanurasana means ‘posture held in the position of a bow’: “dhanu” means ‘bow’ and “asana” means ‘pose’. So, when you reach the final position the body resembles a bow (the abdomen and thigh representing the wooden part of the bow and the legs lower parts and arms representing the bowstring).
How to get into the position
To reach the final position you need to lie on the ground on your front, stretch your legs as straight as possible, bend your knees lifting your thighs off the floor (inhaling) and catch hold of your ankles with your hands behind the back. Then exhale and raise your torso off the floor (weight on the thighs) bending your back like the shape of a bow.
To get the best out the posture, try to use your leg muscles only and place the weight of the body into the thighs, letting your back passively bend backwards. You also need to ensure that you breathe into your chest (and not the abdomen) when holding Dhanurasana. To assist with this, you can lie on a folded blanket to pad the lower abdomen until you get used to where the weight of the body should be. With regular practice, it will become easier.
Dhanurasana is a position known for many health benefits and advantages including:
strengthening the lower back
making your entire spine flexible and supple and reliving stiffness
helps dissolve fat around the abdominal region
helps with weight loss.
aids digestion as the liver is massaged and blood is flushed throughout the entire body cleansing it and allowing the kidneys to work more efficiently
the secretion of the adrenal and thyroid glands is regularised as blood is flushed through the glands.
Dhanurasana is not suitable for everyone. Anyone who suffers from heart problems and/or high blood pressure should avoid this position; as should anyone with a hernia or abdominal issues (like ulcers or appendicitis) or serious back/neck issues.