This month for my Patreon community I released a 45-minute yoga class all about bow pose. It’s one of my favorite poses as it falls into my wheelhouse as a back-bender. However, for many, it’s a challenging pose so I wanted to share a bow pose tutorial for beginners. Plus modifications, and alignment tips & tricks.
You can view the video on YouTube. Maybe add it to a playlist? Above all, remember to subscribe to my channel. New videos are uploaded every Tuesday and Friday.
However, for exclusive longer format videos sign up for my Patreon community. Patrons also get early access to all my videos, along with lots of other benefits. This month I did a 45-minute class focused on bow pose.
How to do Bow Pose
Bow pose is a challenging backbend, so before attempting make sure you have a pain-free cobra pose. So many of us have back injuries and issues we need to honor during our yoga practice and there is no prize for pushing through pain.
Start by laying on your stomach, with your arms down by your sides. If laying on your stomach hurts, that’s a cue that bow pose is NOT your friend. Bend the knees and bring the feet towards the bum. Draw the shoulders back towards the spine and reach the hands back to take a hold of the feet/ankles. Lift the knees and thighs away from the floor. Allow the head and chest to naturally rise up off the floor. Voila, bow pose! Smile optional!
The main thing to note in this pose is that the arms are NOT taking all the work and yanking the legs off the floor. Honestly, that’s one surefire way to back pain in the pose. The arms are assisting. What is working is using the glutes, back and hamstrings to lift the knee away from the floor.
- Can you get the knee and thigh away from the floor WITHOUT using the hands?
This is a key point in the pose because yanking the legs away from the floor using the upper body won’t progress the pose. You won’t get strength in the posterior chain and it will isolate the backbend purely into the lower back and will just feel terrible, trust me! Instead work on modifications below learning to use the strength of the back, rather than arms.
Half Bow Pose
The easiest, prop-free variation of bow pose is to take ardha dhanurasana, half bow pose. Simply put, just do one leg and arm at a time. And, taking the pose step-by-step to see where your limitation lies.
Begin laying prone, face down, with the hands underneath the forehead. Bend the right knee drawing the right foot to the bum. From here reach the right arm back and lightly take a hold of the right foot. Once you connect the hand and foot then, without using the arms, can you lift the right knee and thigh off the floor?
If this feels good working into the low back, glutes and hamstrings you can progress. Using the left hand to lightly push into the floor, lift the head and chest up. All the while pushing the right foot gently into the right hand. Feel the muscular action, distribute the backbend throughout the body, rather than scrunching into the lower back.
Bow Pose with a strap
For many people, this pose is a challenge because they cannot reach their feet. This can be due to many reasons, but the most likely because of all the sitting we do. Remember if tight hip flexors are an issue there is a great stretch at the wall which would help your bow pose a lot. Perhaps the issue is your lack of shoulder mobility? I have a video all about that too! One way to access the pose is to use props, specifically a yoga strap!
The yoga strap basically becomes an extension of the arm. Enabling us to connect the hand and foot. My recommendation is to try the half bow pose tutorial with a strap first before trying full bow pose with a strap. Using props really allows us to access poses in ways
Remember if you found this bow pose tutorial interesting and are curious about a longer yoga class focused around bow pose then check out my Patreon community. This month I did a 45-minute class focused on bow pose. Patrons also get early access to all my videos, along with lots of other benefits. Including two long format classes per month, and audio downloads.
- Can you do bow pose?
- Do you have tight hip flexors?
- Are you a fan of backbends?
I am new to Yoga. Just started recently after suffering a back injury doing martial arts and have found poses like these to be very helpful. Thanks!
Yes yoga and backbends are great for martial arts!
You make it look so easy. I think this is something I’d need to work up to doing. I haven’t used straps for yoga before.
Straps are great for yoga, makes some poses more accessible. Highly recommend
I like you modifications. Very handy. Very nice video by the way. Very clear instruction. Thank you.
Thank you so much 😀
I’ve never attempted (or heard of) bow pose before, but this really breaks it down nicely. I’m not sure whether or not I will be at the level of flexibility and core strength necessary to make this work, yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to trying it out – or at least, incorporating some of the modifications that you’ve included here in my daily routine!
Awesome! hope you try it, at least half bow!
I would definitely need to work my way up to a full bow pose. Perhaps I need the straps or just start with the half bow to get my flexibility up to par first. But either way, this looks like a great way to stretch out your core and improve your hamstrings.
Not a hamstring stretch, but hip flexor and quad (and abs/chest). But yes, start with half bow, and props!
I cannot do a bow pose, yet. But I am working up to it! Thank you for the tutorial!
Try the modification and work from there!
I like bow pose, it works back so well yet gently. I like it more (I mean I think work better on me) than inverted bow (or wheel as many people call it)
Yes I prefer it to wheel also. I get more of a backbend rather than chest opener which is where I feel wheel.
Indya | The Small Adventurer
Wow, as someone with a perpetually sore back, this pose definitely looks both painful AND amazingly beneficial for your back! I’ve tried using straps for yoga, but it definitely seems beneficial in building up your strength and accuracy in getting this pose right, as one right move and you could cause some damage here
Honestly, any pain and you should back off anyway. But yes it’s a strength issue, not just a flexibility issue. And yes, we need these backbends especially those of us that sit all day!