Anatomy of Bow Pose

The Dhanursana (Bow Pose) gets its name due to the body position looking like an archers drawn bow, with the torso being the bow and the arms and legs resembling the drawn bowstring. It is a very demanding whole body position to achieve, using considerable strength and flexibility in addi-tion to the endurance of many postural muscles to maintain this pose for the desired 20-30 seconds.In March’s ‘Anatomy of a Pose’ article discussing The Noble/Powerful Pose – ‘Ugra-asana’, I brushed upon ‘fascial’ lines of the body. These are collec-tions of muscles and their accompanying fascia that work in specific lines spanning across the body. Fascia is simply all of the different tissue that holds the bones and organs in place. This includes muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, connective tissue and skin. The muscles in one fascial line help whole body movement along that specific con-nection of muscles. If one muscle in any given line is not activating efficiently or is weak this can affect the whole fascial line. There are two major fascial lines involved in this pose. The Superficial Front Line (SFL) connects the entire anterior surface of the body including the Tibialis Anterior, Quadriceps and Rectus Abdominus (Abdominals.). The Superficial Back Line (SBL) con-nects and protects the entire posterior surface of the body from the bottom of the foot up to the top of the skull including the gastrocnemii (calves), hamstrings and erector spinae muscles. During the Bow pose the SFL has to relax and allow a large stretch to occur along its path of muscles. The SBL however does the complete opposite and has to con-tract as much as possible to create this position. There-fore either stiffness in the SFL or weakness in the SBL will make performing this pose very difficult. A typical desk worker’s posture may display both of these char-acteristics of a chronically shortened and tight SFL and a weak and deconditioned SBL. A large stress can be put on the back and the ma-jority of the pose achieved must be from the SBL activating, not simply pulling your feet harder to lift the legs higher. It is this poor technique com-bined with weakness in the lower back and poor core stability muscles that may lead to injury in this pose. However, repetition of this pose will quickly improve the conditioning and strength of your SBL muscles and allowing more stretch in the SFL.

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