11 Steps To Teach Bow Pose Using a Backbend Theme
Teach The Sanskrit
Dhanura (धनुर) meaning “bow”
Asana (आसन) meaning “posture” or “seat”
Teach Backbend Themes
The more I teach yoga, the more interested I get in the hidden, esoteric magic that takes place when “practicing an asana”.
Backbend Yoga Theme #1
Willingness To Expand
Backbends can be quite daunting for yoga students because it requires of them a willingness to expand.
Most people get very comfortable with their inner and outer contractions (a.k.a problems and injuries). It’s almost a badge of honour to have something to moan about (especially my fellow Brits). However, when you get into a backbend, you very literally are being open to the gifts of the Universe. You immediately cease all unconscious moaning and complaining and lighten up. It’s as if you’re saying to the Universal Powers, “Yep, I’m ready to receive all the light and joy you have to offer.”
Backbend Yoga Theme #2
Surrender & Happy Endorphins
The other esoteric-ness of “backbends” is that it’s a surrender.
To open your back, to “back bend”, you have to open your chest to the world. You are quite literally exposing the most vulnerable part of your body, your heart, and allowing yourself to surrender and let go. You’re turning off your inner Fight Or Flight switch and flipping a new switch that turns on your inner Joy.
Most newbie yoga students won’t remember the last time they allowed themselves the luxury of opening up. In many cases students will have been “closed down” (shoulders slumped, chest down) physically and therefore mentally for years. It’s absolutely impossible to “be open mentally” if your body language is closed down (shoulders slumped, chest down).
The ancient yogis have known this little known secret for thousands of years. They understood that simply getting into a “backbend” for a few seconds immediately changes your entire body chemistry and releases happy endorphins. At a cellular level, when you practice a backbend, happiness molecules (endorphins) produced within the brain circulate in the blood, and send a signal to every cell that you’re happy. So, anytime you feel down or fatigued, practice a backbend and you’ll immediately flood your brain with endorphins, triggering a happy state of mind.
Backbend Yoga Theme #3
Letting Go Of Perfection
During a backbend your student is asked to be brave, giving up fear to more deeper in the pose. If the student moves into a backbend while trying hard to keep in control, their shoulders tense and the chest closes. So, backbends are a great way for students addicted to “perfection” to let go and start having fun.
Teach Physical Benefits
- Stretches front of body, ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest and throat
- Deep hip flexors
- Strengthens back muscles
- Improves posture
- Stimulates core muscles
Watch YouTube Videos
I recommend watching a bunch of YouTube videos on bow pose and learn. I’ve gone through a grueling 200 hour yoga teacher training, but I still love learning new ways of teaching poses.
Visualise Teaching It
You might like an article I wrote about visualising teaching your yoga classes. I’m a great believer in visualising teaching poses because every single Olympic athlete visualise every detail of their performance. It works. So, if you’re not visualising teaching your yoga classes, print out the yoga lesson plan that you created using The Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit and give it go.
Mindmap To Memorize
I love mindmapping. And more importantly, my mind loves it when I mindmap. When you’re watching Youtube Videos (or reading your trusty “Yoga Bible) and you come across something you’d like to apply to your teaching, do this. In the middle of the page, write BOW POSE and draw a circle around it. Now add branches to each of your ideas on how to teach it. Take a look at this short video about how to mindmap.
For example your main points could be:
- Heels close to buttocks
- Knees hip width
- Burrow tailbone into floor
- Back muscles soft
- Gaze forward
- Use a strap
Teach Preparation Poses
You could choose from one of the following poses as “preparation poses”.
- Upward Facing Dog
Teach Follow-Up Poses
You could choose from one of the following poses as “follow-up poses”.
- Upward Facing Dog
Teach The Modifications
You could choose from one of the following poses as “modifications”.
- Lie on a folded blanket
- Use a strap
Teach The Precautions
- High or low blood pressure
- low back and neck injury
Teach The Counter-Pose
Child Pose is the obvious counter pose. Though any forward bend will do.