Indian mythology is rich with references to the bow, a simple stringed weapon that enables a steady and skilled archer to defeat an enemy. The pose Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) extends the body into the shape of a bow as the arms reach back straight and taut, forming the "string" of the asana. Done properly, Dhanurasana is a superb back strengthener that can help vanquish the postural enemy of rounded shoulders. Arching the body backward opens the chest and provides a powerful stretch for the front of the shoulders and the quadriceps—a wonderful antidote to all the time we spend "crunched" forward in daily life.
Like all other backbends, Dhanurasana is dynamic and energizing—stretching the front body increases the flow of blood to the digestive tract and enhances the efficiency of the stomach, liver, and intestines, while contracting the back body stimulates the kidneys and adrenals.