There are a number of variations of dhanur-asana, all having their own good points. The method that we will describe as the basic technique is the one most widely practised and taught. Try this technique and also the alternative methods described later. Compare them and choose the variation that suits you. Lie flat on the floor, facing downwards. Bend the legs at the knees and bring the heels as close as possible to the back.
Reach back with your hands and grasp the ankles of each leg.
Hold the feet together so that the big toes are in contact.
Place your chin on the ground.
Relax your whole body, especially your back.
This is the starting position.
Breathe out deeply while on the ground.
Breathe in deeply.
Then tense your leg muscles and try to straighten your legs.
This is of course impossible because of the anchoring effect of the arms. The result will be that you will arch your back and lift thighs, chest and head off the ground. The only muscular contraction should be in the legs.
The back, the arms and the rest of the body should be relaxed as much as possible.
The arms should remain straight and passive;
they take no part in the actual raising of the body but act as tie bars.
Hold the head back and raise the chin.
You should adjust your position so that the soft part of the abdomen (the belly) supports the weight of the entire body on the ground;
this can be achieved by adjusting the height of the head or by slackening or tensing the legs.
Hold your breath in the final pose.
Stay in the final pose for as long as it is comfortable.
Then slowly relax the leg muscles and return to the starting position. When you reach the ground, breathe out. Relax the whole body for a short period of time until the respiration returns to normal. Then you can repeat the practice.
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