Urdhva Dhanurasana : Everything your need to know


Urdhva Dhanurasana, also known as the Upward Bow Pose or Wheel Pose, is a quintessential backbend in yoga that exemplifies strength, flexibility, and grace. Derived from Sanskrit, ‘Urdhva’ means upward, ‘Dhanu’ means bow, and ‘Asana’ means pose. This powerful asana not only enhances physical strength but also promotes mental clarity and emotional balance. In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of Urdhva Dhanurasana, its benefits, modifications for different skill levels, reasons to practice it, and tips to improve your ability in this pose.

Scroll down for a class from Vikasa teacher Kara and be guided through beginner and advanced options of Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Want to train with us here in person at Vikasa? Check the bottom of this post to find out how to win a Vikasa Yoga Teacher Training. 

Understanding Urdhva Dhanurasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana is a full-body exercise that requires a blend of strength, flexibility, and endurance. It involves arching the back and lifting the body off the ground, supported by the hands and feet, forming a shape reminiscent of an arched bow.

How to Perform Urdhva Dhanurasana

  1. Preparation: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place your hands beside your ears, fingers pointing towards your shoulders.
  2. Engagement: Press your feet into the ground, engaging your legs and glutes. Simultaneously, push through your hands to lift your head, shoulders, and hips off the floor.
  3. Elevation: Straighten your arms and legs as much as possible, lifting your chest towards the ceiling. Your body should form an arch, with your head hanging gently.
  4. Breathing: Maintain steady breathing, focusing on expanding your chest and opening your heart.
  5. Hold and Release: Hold the pose for a few breaths, then gently lower your body back to the ground, tucking your chin to protect your neck.

Benefits of Urdhva Dhanurasana

Practicing Urdhva Dhanurasana regularly can bring a multitude of benefits to both the body and mind:

Physical Benefits

  1. Strengthens the Spine: The deep backbend stretches and strengthens the spine, promoting better posture and spinal health.
  2. Opens the Chest and Shoulders: This pose expands the chest, increasing lung capacity and improving respiratory function.
  3. Enhances Flexibility: It stretches the hip flexors, quadriceps, and shoulders, enhancing overall flexibility.
  4. Boosts Circulation: The intense stretch promotes blood flow, invigorating the entire body.
  5. Tones the Muscles: Urdhva Dhanurasana engages various muscle groups, including the arms, legs, glutes, and core, contributing to overall body toning.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  1. Reduces Stress: The pose stimulates the adrenal glands, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
  2. Enhances Energy Levels: It revitalizes the body and mind, providing an energy boost and combating fatigue.
  3. Improves Mood: By opening the heart and chest, it promotes feelings of joy and emotional release.

Modifications for Beginners

For those new to Urdhva Dhanurasana, modifications can help ease into the pose safely:

  1. Bridge Pose: Start with Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) to build strength and flexibility in the back and legs.
  2. Use Props: Place blocks under your hands or a bolster under your sacrum to provide additional support and reduce strain.
  3. Assistance: Practice with a partner who can support your lower back as you lift into the pose.

Advanced Variations

For seasoned practitioners, there are several ways to deepen the pose:

  1. One-Legged Wheel: Lift one leg off the ground, extending it straight up towards the ceiling.
  2. Drop Backs: Transition into Urdhva Dhanurasana from a standing position, gradually lowering your back to the floor.
  3. Forearm Wheel: Place your forearms on the ground instead of your hands, intensifying the stretch and strength required.

Let’s Practice!

Incorporating Urdhva Dhanurasana into your practice can significantly enhance your overall yoga experience. This pose is a powerful heart opener, fostering a sense of vulnerability and courage. It challenges you to push beyond your limits, cultivating resilience and determination. Moreover, it balances the energy flow in the body, harmonizing the physical and subtle energies.

Every month at Vikasa we are offer a ‘Pose of the Month’ challenge to help inspire and educate our global Vikasa community on new poses that you can try yourself and work on mastering at home. 

WIN a YTT with us!

Share a post of you doing your version of the pose of the month and go into the running to WIN:

  • Our full Online 200hr Foundation Yoga Teacher Training (valued at $1,000) 
  • OR $1,000 off one of our in-person Yoga Teacher Training Programs at Vikasa here in Koh Samui, Thailand. 

Both training options enable you to become a certified yoga teacher and teach anywhere around the world. 

All you need to do to enter is:

  1. Share a post in your IG feed of you doing the pose of the month
  2. Tag us IN the post
  3. Share it to your stories and tag us 

We hope you enjoy learning and advancing each month with us and we’re excited to gift one lucky winner a month with the chance to become a Vikasa yoga teacher too. 

Enjoy your FREE CLASS with Kara below to learn this monht’s pose of the month- Urdhva Dhanurasana!