Urdhva means upwards. Dhanu means a bow. In this posture the body is arched back and supported on the palms and soles.
1. Lie flat on the back on the floor. (Plate 48)
2. Bend and raise the elbows over the head, and place the palms under the shoulders. The distance between the palms should not be wider than the shoulders and the fingers should point towards the feet.
3. Bend and raise the knees, then bring the feet nearer until they touch the hips. (Plate 141)
4. Exhale, raise the trunk and rest the crown of the head on the floor. (Plate 142) Take two breaths.
5. Now exhale, lift the trunk and head and arch the back so that its weight is taken on the palms and the soles. (Plate 143)
6. Stretch the arms from the shoulders until the elbows are straightened, at the same time pulling the thigh muscles up. (Plate 144)
7. To get a better stretch, exhale and pull the thigh muscles still higher by lifting the heels off the floor. (Plate 145) Extend the chest, stretch up the sacral region of the spine until the abdomen is taut as a drum and then lower the heels to the floor, maintaining the stretch of the spine.
8. Remain in this position from half a minute to a minute, with normal breathing.
9. With an exhalation, lower the body to the floor by bending the knees and elbows.
This asana is the beginning of the advanced and difficult back-bending poses. It tones the spine by stretching it fully and keeps the body alert and supple. The back feels strong and full of life. It strengthens the arms and wrists and has a very soothing effect on the head. It gives one great vitality, energy and a feeling of lightness.
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