Manipura Chakra Opener and Pradipika Posture—Dhanurasana—The Bow

Complete Yoga Breath
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Click images below for
3rd Chakra postures.

3rd Chakra

The Bow
The Bow

The Cobra

Vajroli Mudra
Abs Strengthener

Diaphragm Breath
Diaphragm Breath

The Bowdhanu (= bow)
asana (= posture)

In this image, Eugenia shows a classic Yoga posture, The Bow, slightly advanced with the feet crossed. This is not what you will attempt to do yet. It is a goal for a Bow variation later.

When you practice this posture, visualize the image of the 3rd (Manipura) Chakra and its yellow color (shown in the far right column), and focus on that area of your body (just below your navel and up to the solar plexus centered under your breasts. If you have not read about this Chakra yet, you can click on the image to the right to go directly to the 3rd Chakra series. It will help you visualize this part of your body better.

If a link from the 3rd Chakra (Manipura) series brought you to this page, this posture is quite specific for opening up that area of the Chakra system. However, these postures can be done by anyone for many other reasons. Benefits are also provided below.

There is something absolutely wonderful that happens when you do this posture and really get into it. I consider this asana to be one of the most powerful for healing and connecting to the Chakra system from the center, and at the same time give the body that inner massage it so needs and never gets.

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Detailed Instructions for
Preliminary Steps for Bow Posture

Half Bow StarterThe Half Bow (Ardha dhanurasana, left) is the best way to begin before you even make an attempt to get into the actual Bow Posture.

Don't strain to get into this posture. It will be a lot more fun if you take it slow and easy.
  • Lie on your stomach and bend your left elbow and place it under you as shown in the image (above).
  • Bend your left knee and hold the left ankle in your right hand.
  • Let your head sink and breath deeply as you lift your knee and your head at the same time. If this is easy, continue to lift until you are in the position shown below with your knee and head high, elbow straight. Remember, you are not lifting with your arm! If you use your arm(s) to lift in any Bow variation, the posture will never be correct and it will only hurt.

Half Bow
  • Hold your breath while you hold this position. Feel the stretch and then exhale and sink to the floor with your leg and head. If you cannot reach your left ankle with your right hand, try to lift your right foot with your right arm. That is definitely easier.
  • Do this a couple of times, then relax with the palms of your hand on the floor under your forehead and your legs loose and relaxed. Breathe so you feel your abdomen expand against the floor and then exhale and relax.

And for those of you who came to this page from the 3rd Chakra (Manipura), this posture stretches your entire body from your toes to the tip of your head. This has an opening effect on the 3rd Chakra, and in particular has a healing effect on the entire area from the upper thighs to beneath the breast.

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Bow pointsThis illustration is a simple Bow pose with the feet together (not crossed). The dots show the areas where you will concentrate the most:

  • The dots on the thighs point out the area you will push up the thighs from the floor (not lift).
  • The dots on the buttocks and spine are the areas of your body that will come into play as you curve your spine to get into this position.
  • The dots in the abdomen and solar plexus are where you will be rolling back and forth from your abdominal breathing.
  • The dots on the upper arms is where you should feel completely relaxed. Repeat: You are not using your arms to lift your body up. Your arms are only there for support. Imagine that your body is like a bow, stable, and pliant at the same time.
Bow Posture to musicThis image (left) is on many pages of this site as a sample of my dance to music on my DVD, YogaNata, and it appears here again to give you an idea of what it looks like from both angles (front and side). It's good to have symmetry when you practice Yoga. Symmetry makes all postures much easier. Take another look at this image. You can see that I am on the exhalation, because my solar plexus is touching the floor. When I inhale in this posture, my solar plexus will roll back, off the floor. This is done to music. This is a powerful posture.

Detailed Instructions for The Bow

  • Begin by lying flat on your belly with your knees as close together as possible. If you are really stiff and this is too difficult, let your legs be apart in the beginning.
  • Point your toes to your back. Bend your knees and allow your feet to come as close to your buttocks as possible, without straining. You do this by pushing your thighs off the floor, almost as if you were kicking with your knees bent. Please do not try to lift your feet with your arms, as this will only hurt you.
  • Reach back and hold your ankles (not your feet) with your hands placed around the outside of feet. If you cannot reach your ankles, please practice the preliminary steps provided above in this article.
  • Squeeze your buttocks and press your pubic bone downward (this makes it easier to raise your body). With your chin on the floor, begin to lift your head and chest as you press your thighs against the floor and then literally push your legs off the floor.
WARNING: Do not use your arms or hands to lift your legs off the floor. Your arms do nothing but hold your ankles in place. Think of your arms as the string of a bow and get a bow image in your mind.
  • Use your hands to hold your ankles now. (It is easier to take one ankle at a time.) This will help you lift the upper part of your body, too. Your thighs may come off the ground allowing you to lift your chest even higher.

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Rocking in the Bow Pose

  • If you are able to do this easily and your legs and upper body are off the floor—and all that is touching the floor is your abdomen—then you can begin to inhale with your abdomen until you feel your body rocking back and forth like a cradle, as described above.
  • If this is really easy and your body is relaxed in this position, bring your knees closer together. If possible, bring them together for the perfect Bow posture.
  • Repeat: If getting into this posture is difficult, do not attempt to let your body rock from your breathing. Only come up after inhalation and hold the position, and then exhale and come down. Relax between each movement.
  • When you release the posture, release your hands and allow your legs to come down first. Straighten your legs. Lower your chest and head. Relax from the posture.

Note—Repeat: If you are rocking/rolling back and forth in this position with your breath, do not consciously use any muscles. It is ONLY your breathing that creates the rolling back and forth. You are merely allowing your abdomen to expand with inhalation and contract with exhalation. You are not doing this right if you are trying to rock your body. Just use the breath, which is what creates the wave motion.

Once you get into this posture and it's comfortable, you will start to breathe in and out, in and out (slow enough to roll, but not so slow that you hardly move). You will feel your abdomen expand and your body roll forward forward with inhalation. With exhalation, your body will roll back and your solar plexus will be high up. Try it. You will want to do it every day, because it feels so good. This breath technique in the Bow Posture will only work when you have your thighs and upper body both off the floor. Please do not attempt to do the abdominal breathing to roll naturally as a result, until you can come all the way up, as shown in The Bow images above.

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The Bow Pose opens the entire lower body from the toes to the knees, to the thighs and buttocks, genitals and inner organs, and abdomen. It is even more powerful when you have mastered the posture and can begin to roll back and forth because of your breath.

The Bow can be considered miraculous for many people, because it loosens a stiff back, aids with digestive problems, prevents constipation, strengthens the knees, legs, thigh and back muscles, and shoulders. It nourishes the spleen and liver with the life force that enters the body with conscious breath techniques. Everything between the lower abdomen and solar plexus is given an air massage when breathing is included in the holding of the posture.

It is especially beneficial for women, because it massages all the female reproductive organs. In fact, it helped several of my clients to enjoy sex more and even to get pregnant after trying for many years without success. The Bow also helps to alleviate menstrual cramps and problems with menstruation. However, it is not a good idea to do this during menses.

Obviously, this posture eliminates toxins from the body and strengthens the liver and pancreas. It also strengthens the knees, helps the spine to be more flexible, and stretches the entire body in a way that is impossible to do with any other form of exercise. The Bow massages the abdominal muscles and solar plexus. It helps the digestion as a result of the inner massage. By doing this asana while visualizing all the symbols of this chakra, you connect to the first and second chakras while you rise for the fourth chakra, which comes next. You are already half way to the 7th chakra!

If you want to return to the next Chakra series, you can continue from this page to the 4th Chakra—Anahata, which would have been the next page in the series for you there.

One of the greatest experiences I had with a client (and I've had thousands), was when my professor in Sweden tried this and came out of it a few minutes later with a memory that changed his life. Read about it on this page of My Story to get the details.
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