I know, I know … I’m not supposed to pick favorites … BUT … if I had to, this pose it IT. For so many years (over a decade now – sheesh!) I have been practicing this pose and every time I do, it reveals something different to me … about me, within me, and it’s always new.
In Hot Yoga, it is know as Standing Bow or Standing Bow Pulling Pose. In other yoga styles, it is known most commonly as Dancer’s Pose. Doesn’t matter to me. You can call it “Show me your butt and I’ll pick my nose pose” … I’d still love it. Yes, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.
Here I am at Bikram Yoga Asheville. Janet Horn, one of the owners was sweet enough to stay after class and give me some tips. She even took this picture for me. Janet ROCKS.
Did you notice that my toenails match my shirt?
Beginners – This is a very challenging pose so please, be patient. And rest assured that at any level, you can still find a correct position and receive all of the benefits of the pose. Work on lowering the upper body first. Then, you can think more about kicking the leg back and up. For most beginners, if you kick back too much at first, you will not be able to lower the upper body down quite as much. The standing leg hamstring requires care and attention to open up (necessary to lower the upper body). Allow the arm that is holding the ankle to extend back and away from your body while the other arm reaches forward with the palm facing down, parallel to the floor. Keep your eye gaze up over the extended fingertips (not down!).
Intermediate/Advanced – Your standing leg hamstring is key. It is, in fact, 40% of the pose. Notice that if you kick the leg back too quickly the hamstring won’t allow you to lower the upper body. However, if you don’t kick enough in the beginning, you’ll lose the dynamic stretching (the reaching and kicking in opposite directions) and again your mobility will be limited. So basically, experiment with this understanding that 40% of the pose is in the standing leg hamstring, 40% is in the backbend (happens naturally) and the other 20% is in allowing the shoulder and hip to move up and back behind you (hips are NOT square by the way!). Your two heels will line up from top to bottom in the full expression of the pose. More advanced students may grab lower on the leg (away from the ankle). Think of your side body as long and stretching with both sides of the body equal in length. The side with the kicking leg will want to contract – lengthen by kicking back more.
Stretches the shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, groin and hamstrings.
Strengthens the legs, ankles and feet.
Opens and strengthens the lungs and heart.
See you on the mat!
Bonus! Here is my first YouTube video ever … Standing Bow Pose Example.
By the way, please practice safely. These articles express my opinion and while I have over a decade’s experience with hatha yoga practice, intensive teacher trainings and hundreds of hours of teaching, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen and to find out what activities suit your uniqueness. Because you are special and doggonit … I like you.