Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (One-Legged Bow Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana, One-Legged Bow Pose, One Legged Upward Bow Pose, One Leg Wheel Pose - SharpMuscle
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Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana, also known as One Legged Upward Bow Pose, strengthens the muscles of the back, including the erector spinae, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi, while opening and stretching the chest and shoulders, improving posture and breathing.

Information

Known as:Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana, One Legged Upward Bow Pose, One-Legged Bow Pose, One Leg Wheel Pose
Sanskrit name:एक पाद ऊर्ध्व धनुरासन
IAST:Eka Pāda Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana
Pronunciation:eh-kah pah-dah ooh-rd-vah dahn-ur-ah-sah-nah
Type:Backbend pose, heart opening or heart expanding
Level:Intermediate to advanced
Focus:Entire body
Drishti:Towards the ceiling or the sky
Total time:10-30 seconds
Chakra:Heart chakra (Anahata), Solar plexus chakra (Manipura)
Indications:Erector spinae, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, chest, shoulders, posture, breathing, hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, proprioception, digestion, gut health, stress, anxiety
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), Reclined Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Preparatory poses:Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
Follow-up poses:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Contraindications:High blood pressure or low blood pressure, headaches, diarrhea, or heart problems, back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome

Meaning

The “Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana” is a Sanskrit name which is made from five words – Eka + Pada + Urdhva + Dhanu + Asana:

  1. Eka” = “one”
  2. Pada” = “foot”
  3. Urdhva” = “upward”
  4. Dhanu” = “bow”
  5. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Together, the name of the pose can be translated to mean “One Legged Upward Bow Pose,” which refers to the posture of the body in the pose, where one leg is lifted and extended upwards while the other leg and both arms remain on the ground, creating a bow-like shape with the body.

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The bow shape of the pose is said to represent the archer’s bow in Indian mythology, with the lifted leg serving as the bowstring and the arms and legs on the ground representing the bow itself. This pose is believed to help cultivate strength, focus, and resilience, similar to the qualities of an archer. Additionally, the pose is believed to stimulate the heart chakra, promoting feelings of love, compassion, and openness.

Benefits of One Legged Upward Bow Pose

One Legged Upward Bow Pose (Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana) provides a range of physical and mental benefits, making it a valuable addition to any yoga practice, which include:

Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the muscles of the back, including the erector spinae, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi.
  • Open and stretch the chest and shoulders, improving posture and breathing.
  • Help to increase spinal flexibility, as well as flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
  • Improve overall balance and proprioception.
  • Help to stimulate digestion and improve overall gut health.

Mental Benefits:

  • Help to build confidence and self-esteem as you work towards achieving it.
  • Relieve stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and deep breathing.
  • Improve mental clarity and focus.
  • Help to promote mindfulness and a greater awareness of the present moment.

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana Practice Guide

One-Legged Bow Pose is a challenging and invigorating yoga asana that requires strength, flexibility, and balance. This pose is a variation of the traditional Wheel Pose (Chakrasana) and involves lifting one leg up toward the ceiling while maintaining the arch of the back and lift of the chest.

One Leg Wheel pose is an intermediate to advanced backbend yoga pose, which falls under the category of “heart opening” or “heart expanding” asanas.

This posture involves a high level of body strength, flexibility, and balance, particularly in the back, shoulders, and core.

To practice Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana safely and effectively, it’s important to have a solid foundation in basic yoga poses such as upward dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), camel pose (Ustrasana), and bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). It is also essential to warm up the body properly before performing this pose, with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar or other gentle, warm asanas.

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If you’re new to yoga or backbends, it’s ideal to practice with a knowledgeable yoga instructor/teacher who can guide you through the process of gradually and safely increasing your strength and flexibility.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Begin by lying on your back on a yoga mat, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.
  2. Place your palms next to your ears on the mat, fingers pointing towards your shoulders.
  3. Press your hands and feet firmly into the mat, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling, coming into Urdhva Dhanurasana, or upward-facing bow pose. Keep your elbows parallel and shoulder-width apart.
  4. Shift your weight to your left leg while extending your right leg straight up towards the ceiling. Flex your foot and point your toes in the direction of your face.
  5. Keep your left leg grounded and strong, and press through your left foot and hand to lift your hips higher.
  6. Hold the pose for a few breaths, focusing on keeping your body strong and stable.
  7. Bring your right leg to the mat slowly, and relax your hips to the ground.
  8. Switch sides and repeat the pose, stretching your left leg straight up to the ceiling while maintaining your right leg grounded.
  9. To deepen the pose, you can try lifting your gaze upward, or walking your hands and feet closer together.
  10. To release the pose, slowly lower your hips back down to the ground and release your hands and feet from the mat.

Tips

  • If you’re new to this pose, it’s important to warm up your body beforehand with some gentle stretches, such as Cat-Cow or Downward-Facing Dog.
  • If you have any wrist or shoulder injuries, it’s best to avoid this pose or modify it by using a prop, such as a block or bolster, to support your upper body.
  • Remember to engage your core muscles throughout the pose to protect your lower back.
  • Always listen to your body and avoid overexertion. If you feel any discomfort or agony, exit the pose and take a break.
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Modifications and variations

Here are some modifications and variations you can try for One Legged Upward Bow Pose, depending on your level of practice and any limitations you may have:

  1. Use a yoga block or bolster under your head for support if you have neck or shoulder issues.
  2. Place a folded blanket or towel under your hips if you have lower back discomfort.
  3. Keep your foot on the ground and focus on lifting your hips instead of extending your leg if you’re not yet able to lift your leg straight up.
  4. Practice against a wall for support and stability.
  5. Try lifting both legs up together, coming into Urdhva Dhanurasana with both legs in the air.
  6. Take the pose into a deeper backbend by walking your hands and feet closer together and lifting your chest higher.
  7. Lift your extended leg to the side, coming into a One-Legged Side Plank variation.
  8. Experiment with different arm variations, such as interlacing your fingers behind your back or placing your hands on your lower back.
  9. Add a twisting element to the pose by bringing your lifted leg across your body and twisting toward it.

Precautions and contraindications

There are the precautions and contraindications for One Legged Upward Bow Pose, which are important to consider, avoiding any potential harm or injury to the body. These include:

  1. High or low blood pressure: This pose could lead to an unexpected increase in blood pressure, which can be problematic for those who have high blood pressure. Maintaining the posture for a longer period of time might also be difficult for persons with low blood pressure. If you have either of these conditions, it’s best to avoid or modify this pose.
  2. Headaches: The intense backbend and inversion of this pose can cause or exacerbate headaches in some individuals. If you have a history of headaches, avoid this position or proceed with caution.
  3. Diarrhea: Performing this yoga posture can increase the pressure on the abdomen, which can be uncomfortable or potentially harmful for persons suffering from diarrhea or other digestive problems. It’s best to avoid this pose if you’re experiencing any digestive discomfort.
  4. Heart problems: One-Legged Upward Bow Pose can be a challenging and intense posture that puts strain on the heart. If you have a history of cardiac problems, you ought to consult with a doctor before performing this pose.
  5. Back injury: This posture takes a lot of back strength and flexibility, which can be challenging for people who have back ailments or chronic discomfort. It’s best to avoid this pose or modify it with the help of a qualified yoga instructor.
  6. Carpal tunnel syndrome: The weight-bearing nature of this pose can put pressure on the wrists, which can be painful or damaging for those with carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist injuries. It’s best to modify the pose by using props or avoiding it altogether if you have any wrist discomfort.

In general, it’s essential to listen to your body and approach this pose with caution, taking any necessary modifications or avoiding it altogether if you have any concerns or limitations. Before performing any fresh yoga poses, please consult with an educated yoga teacher/instructor, especially if you have any pre-existing medical issues or injuries.

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