Akarna Dhanurasana – Archer’s Pose, How To Do, Benefits

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Akarna Dhanurasana is an intermediate level Yoga pose. In the pose, the body of the practitioner resembles ‘an archer who is about to release an arrow’ and hence the name ‘Archer’s Pose’. When the archer pulls the string of the bow to release the arrow, he pulls the string up to the ear. Since the practitioner pulls one of his legs with his hand to the level of the ear just like the string of the bow, it is called as Akarna Dhanurasana.

A = near
Karna = ear
Dhanu = bow
Asana = pose

This pose resembles a bow that aims to release an arrow. It is also called as ‘shooting bow pose’. The main aim of this pose is to pull the foot near the ear to resemble an archer.

The pose is called by the below mentioned names –

Difference between Dhanurasana and Akarna Dhanurasana

In Dhanurasana our body forms the shape of the bow. In Akarna Dhanurasana, body looks like stretching the strings of bow and aiming the bow.

Preparation for Akarna Dhanurasana

Method of doing

Akarna Dhanurasana – 1

Positioning for the pose

Sit comfortably on the floor in Dandasana – staff pose. Keep legs straight right in front of you. Keep head, back and shoulders straight. Adjust sitting bones and balance in the position. Breathe easily and deeply. Place palms on thighs.
Getting into the pose.
While exhaling, reach out left hand to left foot sliding hand on the leg.
Grab the big toe of left foot with left hand.
Bend right knee slightly towards torso.
Hold the outer border of right foot with right hand and grip it firmly.
Inhale and take a deep breath.
As you exhale, lift right foot with right hand and take it closer to right ear. Now right knee is pointing backwards while right elbow is pointed backwards and little upwards towards the ceiling.
Lengthen spine and breathe freely.
If you cannot hold left foot with left hand, you may release the foot or hold it with a strap.
Experience a good stretch in right gluteal and hamstrings muscles.
Be here for 5 deep breaths or for a time period of 30-60 seconds.

Release from the pose

  • Slowly release left leg and bring it down to the floor with exhalation.
  • Extend left leg in front of you and come back to staff pose.
  • Place palms on thighs. Breathe freely and relax.
  • Now repeat the same steps by keeping right leg extended and lifting left foot with left hand to the level of left ear.
    Read – Tadasana – Mountain Pose: How To Do, Benefits, Side Effects

Variations

Akarna Dhanurasana – 2

Sit in Dandasana.
Cross left foot over the right foot.
Hold right big toe with left hand. Hold left big toe with right hand.

Now slowly lift left foot with right hand bring it close to right ear with right elbow pointing backwards, outwards and upwards. Left shin is now beneath right arm pit / arm. Left hand is holding the right big toe as right leg stays extended in front of you.

Keep back and neck straight and look with forward gaze.

Breathe comfortably and deeply for 4-5 counts or stay here for 30 seconds.

Release

  • Release left foot and bring it down on the top of right foot. Simultaneously release right toe and bring back left hand.
  • Remove left foot from the top of right foot and place it beside the right foot and come back to staff pose.
  • Now repeat the steps by crossing the right foot over the left foot.
    Read – Ardha Padmasana – Half Lotus Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Dosha Effects

Akarna Dhanurasana – 3

Sit in Dandasana – staff pose with both legs extended in front of you.
Bend left leg and keep the foot on the right thigh. Keep the right leg straight.
Now hold the big toe of left leg with right hand.
Inhale and lift the left foot with right hand to the level of right ear. At the same time hold the big toe of your right leg with your left hand.
Be here for 4-5 deep breaths or 30-60 seconds. Breathe normal in this position.

Release

  • Release left foot and bring it back on right thigh with exhalation.
  • Release right foot and bring back left hand.
  • Extend right foot and come back to staff pose.
  • Breathe easily and relax.
  • Repeat the same steps by changing foot.

Watch this video to follow the method of doing Akarna Dhanurasana
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peh9uHiRGrQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXXh0DSB-OU

Health Benefits

  • This pose strengthens arms, shoulders, thighs and calves.
  • Makes legs strong and flexible
  • Makes thighs, groins, chest, shoulders, spine, abdominal muscles and neck strong and flexible
  • Helps to build up core muscles
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens spine
  • Improves posture
  • Removes back and lumbar pain
  • Beneficial in arthritis and rheumatic conditions
  • Makes lungs strong and hence is useful to people suffering from respiratory ailments. Expands lungs effectively and hence greatly enhances the breathing capacity and oxygen holding capacity of lungs
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves digestion process and is a good remedy for indigestion and constipation
  • Regulates menstrual cycle in women

Preparatory Poses

  • Virasana – hero pose
  • Bhujangasana – cobra pose
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – upward facing dog pose
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – shoulder supported bridge pose

Follow Up Poses

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Lord of Fishes Pose
  • Supta Padangusthasana – Reclining hand to big toe pose

Time spent doing Akarna Dhanurasana

Be in the pose for 30-60 seconds. You need to perform the pose for the same duration even on the opposite side.

Impact on Chakras

This pose stimulates and balances Svadisthana Chakra and Anahata Chakra – Heart Chakra.
Read – Chakra – Kundalini: Introduction, Meaning, Types, Location, Ayurveda View

Contraindications, Precautions

Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Akarna Dhanurasana –

  • Back injury
  • Slip disc
  • Pregnant woman should avoid this pose.
  • Spinal injuries

Caution

  • Keep neck and trunk straight while you lift foot towards ear. Do not bend neck.
  • Persons with weak waist should not perform the pose.

Impact on doshas and tissues

Impact on Doshas and its subtypes – It strengthens and expands lungs, enhances oxygen holding capacity of lungs and makes breathing easy. Therefore it supports the functions of udana vata, vyana vata and avalambaka kapha. Since it is good for digestion it is beneficial for functioning of samana vata. It relieves constipation and regulates menstrual cycle in women and hence balances apana vata functions.

Impact on tissues – It strengthens limbs, stretches and makes the muscles flexible, strengthens spine and bones and hence good for muscles and bone tissue.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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