Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose (Fig. YPS.9, page 129), is a powerful backward bend. You can help your partner open the back and shoulder area even wider and further than your partner could do on his or her own.
Have your partner lie down on his or her belly on a firm, padded surface. Your partner bends the legs, raising the lower legs off the ground, and lifting the feet toward the buttocks. Your partner grasps the ankles with his or her hands. As your partner inhales, he or she raises the knees and thighs off the ground by lifting up and pulling back on the ankles. As your partner's thighs come off the ground, he or she also lifts the head and front upper torso off the ground, back arching into a backbend. Encourage your partner to breathe deeply and fully during this pose.
You can help your partner deepen the stretch to the muscles of the back and shoulders. Stand behind your partner, facing him or her. Your feet and legs are
Fig. 15.3: Partner Assisted Bow Pose
Fig. 15.3: Partner Assisted Bow Pose on the outside of your partner's legs. Take hold of your partner's hands where they meet the ankles. Lift your partner's torso up so that his or her shoulders widen and the back lengthens (see Fig. 15.3). Hold your partner in this position for several breaths, or however long it is comfortable. To release from the pose, your partner exhales as you slowly release your hands from his or her hands and ankles. Encourage your partner to let his or her legs and feet float back down to the ground, slowly lowering the upper chest and head to the ground. Your partner rolls the head to one side and rests for several deep breaths.
Thank your partner for this opportunity to share assisted partnering, then reverse roles: You assume Bow Pose while your partner provides assisted support.
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