Secrets Of Standing Bow Pose

Standing bow pose is based on equalizing the action of both sides of your body, your forward arm and kicking leg balancing each other. The tension that stabilizes your balance is vital to the proper performance of this pose. 

We take a look at the secrets of standing bow pose to help you master this difficult yoga posture and get the most out of it. 

Secrets Of Standing Bow Pose

Meaning Of Standing Bow Pose 

Standing bow pose is a difficult standing balance pose. It consists of standing on one leg with the other leg extended behind the body held by the hand on the same side. The body and other arm reach forward. The outline is representative of an archer’s bow. 

This is one of the 25 poses of Bikram yoga. It provides improved circulation, flexibility, balance and improved strength. In Sanskrit, standing bow pose is called dandayamana dhanurasana. 

Unlike sitting and lying poses, standing poses did not form part of the ancient yogic practices and were introduced to yoga in the mid 20th century. Danadayamana dhanurasana is thought to have developed from natarajasana or dancer’s pose

Achieving Standing Bow Pose

The standing bow pose is not for beginners and should only be done when you have reached a certain level of yogic practice. That being said, you should always be moving forward and trying new postures. 

To achieve standing bow pose:

  • Stand tall with your feet together in mountain pose or tadasana. 
  • As you inhale raise your left arm straight up, palm facing inward
  • Bend your right knee, keeping your knees together and squeezing to activate the inner thigh on your standing leg
  • Grasp your right foot from the inside with your right hand. Your thumb should be on the arch of your foot and your fingers should be wrapped around the top of your foot
  • Now separate your knees and with equal force and pressure, reach forward with your left hand and kick back into your right hand with your right foot
  • Slowly rotate your body down toward the ground, kicking your right foot up and back while still reaching your left arm forward
  • The equal and opposing forces are what keep you balanced. 
  • Keep your gaze forward
  • When you are ready, slowly come back up to standing or tadasana
  • Now repeat the pose on the other side

Modifying Standing Bow Pose

You can modify standing bow pose in the following way:

  • Begin in tadasana or mountain pose with feet together
  • As you inhale raise your left arm straight up
  • Bend your right knee 
  • Bend your right arm with your palm facing upward then bring it down by your side with your palms facing outward
  • Move your arm back and grasp your right foot from the outside. Your thumb should be on the arch of your foot and your fingers should wrap around the top of your foot
  • As you raise your foot your elbow goes out to the side and then up
  • Once you are in the full pose you can either reach your left arm forward or reach it back and grasp your right foot with both hands
  • If you find you can’t quite get the reach with your hands you can use a strap or a towel for extra length

Benefits Of Standing Bow Pose

The standing bow pose is unique. It is the only pose that increases your blood circulation on one side of the body and then the other. 

As one side is constricted the blood flows to the other side, increasing circulation. This increased blood supply introduces extra oxygen to the lungs and the heart, stimulating the cardiovascular system. 

The benefit of the standing bow pose on the lower spine comes from the improved flexibility and strength. Your shoulder joints are opened, reducing the risk of frozen shoulder or easing that condition if you already have it. 

During standing bow pose the chest is opened thus helping to deepen your breathing and increasing oxygen rich blood flow. It also strengthens your abdomen. 

The posture should be mostly felt in the legs and stretches the hamstrings. 

Tips For Standing Bow Pose

In order to get as much out of the standing pose as possible, below are some tips to assist you. These can help you to achieve better form and become more comfortable and confident with the posture. 

Keep Knees Together

One of the most important things to get right for the standing bow pose is to keep your knees together in the first part of the posture. This is particularly good advice for those who have tight hip flexors or a tight back. 

Paying attention to this aspect of the pose will also help you to maintain your alignment throughout the posture. It can prevent you from letting your knee or foot swing right or left while trying to kick your leg higher. 

Your hip, knee and ankle should all be aligned for maximum benefit from the standing bow pose. 

Relax Your Hand

When grasping your foot you should be using your fingertips when executing this pose. The palm of your hand should remain relaxed. This is to help you focus on the kicking and not be tempted to ‘hold on’ to your foot. 

The pressure from kicking should be what keeps your foot in your hand. 

Engage Your Standing Leg

As mentioned above you should feel this posture in your legs most of all, particularly in your hamstrings and quadriceps. These two groups of muscles should be fully engaged to protect your knee as well as the hamstrings, as they stretch when leaning forward. 

Inhale Deeply

By taking a deep breath before you kick your leg you will find it easier to maintain the standing bow pose and withstand the increased heart rate that you will experience. Taking a breath as you raise your arm also helps. 

Extend The Hold Time

Try to remain in the pose for longer than you want to. This will require some mental perseverance and focused breath work, but it will pay dividends. Allowing yourself to remain in the posture a little longer will increase your cardio stamina, and help you to advance in this pose. It can also help you to lose weight. 

Flex The Forward Arm

The forward arm should not be passive during the pose and should be engaged and taut. This helps to create counterbalance to the leg you are kicking. It also helps to tone your arms and shoulders as well as engaging your core. All of which make the pose easier. 


As with any yoga poses, practice makes perfect. Standing bow pose is one of the most difficult postures so if you want to improve your form you will need to practice. Once a week will not give you the same results as practicing three times a week. 

Final Thoughts

While it is a difficult pose, once you have mastered standing bow pose you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your achievement. 

We hope that this guide to the standing bow pose has helped and inspired you to persevere with this rewarding posture. With time, it will help you build strength, flexibility and gain better balance.

Laura Simmons
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