Standing Bow-Pulling Pose offers the body the opportunity to experience strength, elegance, grace, expression, flexibility, and endurance. This pivotal standing balancing posture requires tremendous concentration and mindfulness to execute correctly, and to gain maximum benefit. When done correctly, there are shades of balance, strengthening, forward-bending, back-bending, and detoxifying and toning twists.
Stand with your feet together, side by side. Shift your weight to your left foot and pick up your right foot from the inside, with your right hand. Squeeze your knees together to help you balance on one leg. Engage your lower abdominal muscles and reach your left arm up to the ceiling. Stretch this arm as much as you can, reaching and pulling your body in traction between your standing leg and this stretching arm.
Slowly begin to kick your right knee and foot (into your holding hand and arm) as much as you can back behind you. Let this kick slowly start to pull your right shoulder and torso back, as well, beginning a twisting form. Be sure to maintain good core strength so that you can hold your balance on one leg.
Simultaneously, arch your body and reach your free arm out of the body forward toward the front mirror, until your body begins to make the shape of an archer’s bow. Your leading arm is the “arrow,” poised with directed and refined strength and determination.
Eventually, your body will begin to hinge forward toward the front mirror and lay parallel to the floor. Your standing leg remains locked in muscular strength and your kicking leg continues it’s “back and up” motion, creating the necessary tension to elongate the body and the free arm forward and to the front. Be sure never to let your free arm fall below the level of your eyes in the front mirror. This arm, when reaching forward and high, will keep the spine in perfect back-bending shape.
Stretch, kick, reach, and hold for 60 seconds. To exit the posture, slowly return to your set-up position and release the foot to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
When performed correctly, this posture brings together many different, seemingly unconnected classes of asana. Tipping your body forward over a standing leg will stretch the hamstrings of your balancing leg. Kicking back with graceful force against a firm hand will open the hip-flexors and quadriceps of the kicking leg. Reaching your free hand forward in a deep stretch will help with twisting the spine against the foot-holding arm. This twist will detoxify the energy of the spine, helping to improve blood flow and to restore natural range of motion. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged to center all that’s happening!