Fearlessness is such a powerful word and a quality that we all like to believe we have. Recently I have been faced with some difficult life changes and challenges. I was unable to control the situation and I did not want to change and let go. I asked myself, why? The answer was fear, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of letting go.
This month I would like to share with you Dhanurasana, also known as bow pose, named after the warrior Arjuna and his bow. Known to be the most powerful and strongest of all bowmen and fearless in his approach, Arjuna was also compassionate and selfless, quoted as saying, “Selfish action imprisons the world. Act selflessly, without any thought of personal profit”.
The Dhanurasana pose is a powerful stretch along the front of the body and a deep opening of the front body particularly the chest - the heart centre. This deep stretch helps you cultivate an attitude of fearlessness and grace. Let’s have a look at the other benefits of this pose:
•Expands chest and shoulders
•Stretches hip flexors (inner hip muscles) and core muscles
•Stretches front of shins
•Strengthens the gluteus muscles of the hip and hamstrings at the back of the thigh
•Strengthens the lower back
•Relieves some forms of lower back pain
•Therapeutic for asthma, opening accessory muscles of breathing
•Tones the abdominal organs and stimulates organs of the neck.
Please follow these steps to start your practice of the bow pose.
1. Lie on your stomach with your hands by your side and palms up (beginners may want to lie on a rolled up blanket - see photo one). Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as you can to your buttocks. Reach back with your hands and take hold of your ankles, not the feet. Make sure your knees aren’t wider than the width of your hips.
2. Inhale and strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks and at the same time, lift your thighs away from the floor. This, in effect, will pull your upper torso and head off the floor. Press your tail bone down toward the floor, and keep your back muscles soft. As you continue lifting the heels and thighs higher, press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your heart. Roll your shoulders away from your ears and look forward (see photo two).
A few notes:
1. You will find breathing will be harder because your belly is pressed to the floor. It is very important to keep breathing, do not hold your breath. Breath steadily and slowly into your back and chest.
2. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Release as you exhale, and lie quietly for a few breaths. You can repeat the pose once or twice more.