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Yoga Pose of the Month: Urdhva Dhanurasana

Think Heart-Opener… Ahh…Urdhva Dhanurasana, our pose of the month. Some people might be thinking can-opener – as in ‘Can I ever open my ________ (fill in appropriate body part here) enough to ever be able to do the full expression of this %$#@# posture?’

If you already have butterflies and daisies and lilting melodies flying from your heart at the thought of Full Wheel, you might want to add Lotus Mudra to your practice. But if you’re like me and filled in the blank above with more than one body part, stick with it. You can try the mudra later.

In yoga, the back typically represents the forgotten or shadow side of our consciousness, while the front body symbolizes our identity. Back bends require open hips and strong abs and a sense of adventure. There is no hiding the Self in Urdhva Dhanurasana!

Yoga Journal writes about Urdhva: “It’s easy to feel simultaneously seduced and humiliated by Urdhva Dhanurasana.”

Warm up with Surya Namaskara, Bhujangasana (Cobra), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Updog), Setu Bandha and Danurasana. The lie on your back:

  • breathe
  • bend your knees and bring your heels in close to your butt
  • place your hands on the mat by your ears, fingers spread wide and pointing towards your shoudlers
  • blossom your butt, by bringing your inner thighs back (towards the mat)
  • then tuck your tailbone by engaging the abs
  • keep your thighs and feet parallel as you
  • press all four corners of your feet into the mat and lift up to the crown of your head
  • breathe
  • widen your hands a bit if your shoulders are tight
  • keep your shoulders hugging on to your back
  • press
  • straighten your arms, straighten your legs into full wheel
  • breathe

The practice of Urdhva Dhanurasana yields amazing benefits:

“A study conducted in an American university linked the effects of continuous low back pain to decreasing the gray matter of the brain [with consistent, thoughtful practice, Urdhva can relieve back pain. Can it build gray matter, too? Yogis throughout history and scientists at Yale agee that yoga and meditation are good for the brain]. Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar also recommended backbends for curing depression and as a holistic alternative for heart patients and in particular people with ischemia [inadequate blood supply to organs and heart]. Backbends boost energy levels, relieve tensions stored in the muscles and release natural pain-killers.” (www.theyogaway.com)
image credits: estrip.org and forums.pelicanparts.com

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