Dhanurasana in English means 'floor bow', a name which lends itself to the cliche of yoga being about tying yourself in to knots in the name of exercise. Though of course by now you know that's not true!
Dhanurasana marks the end of the spine-stretching and strengthening section of the floor series, and provides an excellent stretch for your quads and hip flexors.
Dhanurasana: Step by Step
1. Lie on your front, chin on the floor, legs straight out behind you. Bend your legs at the knees and grab your feet from the outside of the foot. Hold on the top of the foot just below the toes, fingers and thumbs together.
2. Inhale, and keeping your knees together and stomach on the floor, kick your legs behind you and up in the air on the exhale. Your toes should be pointing upwards towards the sky.
3. Keep your arms straight - there must be absolutely no bend in the arms. This set-up will create a bow shape. Hold for 20 seconds and keep kicking to your maximum throughout the pose. Remember to breathe throughout the 20 seconds.
Dhanurasana: The Benefits
Olga Allon, Director of Hot Bikram Yoga says: "This posture is the final of [the] spine strengthening sequence, and you will have worked through each part of your spine independently. This 360-degree flexion of the spine revitalizes all the spinal nerves by increasing circulation, strengthens the spine along its entire length and develops flexibility."
"Runners often neglect their glutes, but having strong glutes can decrease the risk of lower back injury or pain, and give you power to sprint the last few hundred metres of a run to beat your PB. Dhanurasana builds glute strength, as they are what power the kick of your legs behind you."
"By opening the front of your body, your shoulders open up - excellent if you spend all day slumped over a desk. This posture also has a surprising cardiovascular element, as it's very intense for 20 seconds; the expansion of the ribcage may help increase cardiovascular capacity."
Bikram specialist Olga Allon teaches at London's Hot Bikram Yoga.