Bow pose is named after the resemblance of the archer’s bow, with the torso and legs representing the body of the bow, and the arms the string. This pose builds incredible strength and elasticity in the back and spine.
Benefits (from yogajournal.com)
• Stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat, and deep hip flexors (psoas)
• Strengthens the back muscles
• Improves posture
• Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
1. Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your chin on the mat and your hands resting at your sides.
2. On an exhalation, bend your knees. Bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks, keeping your knees hip-distance apart.
3. Reach back with both hands and hold onto your outer ankles.
4. On an inhalation, lift your heels up toward the ceiling, drawing your thighs up and off the mat. Your head, chest, and upper torso will also lift off the mat. Draw your tailbone down firmly into the floor, while you simultaneously lift your heels and thighs even higher. Lift your chest and press your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
5. Gaze forward and breathe softly. Your breath will become shallow, but do not hold your breath.
6. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
7. To release, exhale and gently lower your thighs to the mat. Slowly release your legs and feet to the floor. Place your right ear on the mat and relax your arms at your sides for a few breaths. Repeat the pose for the same amount of time, then rest with your left ear on the mat.
• Roll from side to side and pause and then through center to the other side
• For a greater challenge, practice the pose with your thighs, calves, and inner feet pressing together.
• For an even deeper backbend for advanced students, take hold of the opposite ankles.
• You can give your legs a little upward boost by lying with your thighs supported on a rolled-up blanket.
• Grab one ankle at a time and then switch to the other.
• If you can’t hold onto your ankles, use a yoga strap. Wrap the strap around the front of your ankles before coming into the pose. Hold onto the strap when you are in the pose with your arms fully extended.