Your Monthly Yoga Pose
If you’ve ever taken one of my yoga classes, it’s likely you’ve heard me say, “Let your heart shine.” This visual of seeing light streaming out of your heart is a way to connect to your “heart center.” Ideally, it provides both a visual and visceral sensation of warmth, strength and lightness from your chest cavity. By simply hearing, “Shine your heart,” you may bring awareness toward your heart and may even puff out your chest and arch your back a little more.
This month’s pose is bow pose, or dhanurasana. Bow pose is a heart opener and considered a back bend or an extension of the back. Bow pose opens the whole front part of the body while gently massaging the internal organs. It is a pose that you generally do in the latter third of class as you want your shoulders, spine and core to be warm and ready for the opening.
1. Warm up the spine, shoulders, quadriceps and core.
2. Lie on your stomach, forehead to the ground, arms on the ground behind you.
3. Bend your knees toward your buttocks, keeping your knees hip distance apart (or closer).
4. Hold on to your ankles or arches where your thumb is pointing upwards (toward the toes) on the inside of the arch of the foot.
5. Kick your heels up and back and allow the strength of your legs to lift your torso. The knees will naturally want to widen; bring them together as you work on this pose.
6. Breathe and notice the weight of your body on the diaphragm and allow your breath to expand into the back body, deeply inhaling and exhaling.
7. Continue to use the strength of your legs to open the heart and “let your heart shine.”
8. Stay in the pose for five full body breaths.
9. Once you are done with backbends and heart openers, come into a close-kneed child’s pose to round out the back.
As with all yoga, bow pose is accessible to all bodies but may require modifications for your specific body. Each body has its own unique story. As you move through your yoga practice, remind yourself that your pose will be different from your neighbor’s pose because you both have completely different stories. Modifications are ways to allow you to access a pose regardless of where you are. Bow pose has excellent modifications to both increase and/or decrease sensation.
Modifications for bow pose:
- One-legged bow pose: Begin the same as traditional bow but keep one leg extended and one arm supporting your upper body.
- Bow pose with a strap: Place a strap at the ankles and use your arms to help bring your legs and back closer together. This can help people with less mobility, and it can also increase sensation for people with hypermobility.
Be mindful as you move in yoga and in life, and wherever you are right now, “Let your heart shine!”
Photos by Michael Foote