In Bow pose, we practice keeping a good tight grip on the feet while kicking the legs up and back to move the total spine into a backward bend- against the force of gravity! Sounds purty impressive, doesn't it? It sure is, and here's why:
Bending your spine backwards using your strength counter-balances the many forward-bending positions you put your body in throughout the day. This helps to straighten out your spine, which improves posture and relieves or prevents back pain. Holding your feet from outside while you kick causes the rib cage to open, improving pigeonchest and permitting maximum expansion of lungs and increased oxygen intake. Balancing on a stretched-out belly while compressing the back improves function of the intestines, liver, kidneys, and spleen.
But that's not all: Back-bending revitalizes the spinal nerves by increasing circulation along the spine. Bow pose strengthens abdominal muscles, upper arms, thighs and hips while developing flexibility of the scapula, latissimus dorsi, deltoid, and trapezius muscles. Improved posture, pain prevention and relief, strength, flexibility- all that in just 20 seconds at a time. Not too shabby, eh?
TIP: "What if I Can't Get My Feet??"
If you are unable to grab both of your feet (yet!) that is perfectly normal. It might be a stiff knee, back or shoulder that's limiting you. Simply keep coming and trying the right way- your body will open up in time! Here's how to start:
- Grab the right foot in the first set. If you can't get it, keep trying! It often helps to bring your leg out to the side from the hip so you can reach your foot, then get the leg behind you again once you've got the grip.
- Once you have one foot, try to get the other foot.
- Repeat, starting with the left foot, for the second set.