The archer pose goes by many aliases; the reverse triangle, hero posture and Akarna Dhanurasana are just a few of them.
This classic Kundalini yoga move mimics the movement pattern of an archer shooting an arrow from a seated position.
It is pretty challenging and would not be suitable for a person with little mobility and flexibility.
To do it correctly, follow these steps:
- Sit on the floor or a mat with your legs extended to the front of your body. Your back should be straight and your torso lengthened towards the ceiling.
- Brace your core.
- Inhale and lean forward, then reach for your toes with both hands, ensuring your back remains straight.
- Clasp your right toes using the fingers on your right hand.
- Bend the right knee before slowly drawing your right foot up towards the right ear.
- Make sure the right leg is at a 45-degree angle and the right elbow is pointing back.
- Using the left hand, grab your left leg and flex the left foot to point the left heel outward. Keep the right foot lifted toward your right ear.
- Hold this position for 10-20 seconds as you breathe mindfully.
- Breathe out and release your right foot.
- Repeat the steps on the left side.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE ARCHER POSE WORK?
This exercise works various muscles, most of them on your lower body.
Some of the lower body muscles engaged are your hip flexors, hamstrings, calf muscles and glutes.
On your upper body, your back and shoulders do most of the heavy lifting.
Your core also gets some work done by stabilizing your upper body and spine as you stretch out your lower body.
BENEFITS OF THE ARCHER POSE
PELVIC PAIN RELIEF
Do you suffer from painful menstrual cramps? This exercise might just be the remedy you’ve been looking for.
By stretching out the muscles in the abdominal and pelvic area, the archer pose can help ease the pain on your lower abdomen to make your periods a bit more bearable.
The archer pose requires great mobility and stability, which your body gets from your core.
By engaging your core muscles for stability, it also strengthens and tones them, which is a plus for you.
This movement trains the muscles in your arms, hips, and legs to be more flexible by stretching them out.
To hold this pose for a significant amount of time, you must have a lot of strength in your arm muscles.
Practicing it for long periods can help increase strength in these muscles.
The archer pose is a great way to open your chest and expand your lungs to enable you to breathe deeper for better respiratory function.
ALTERNATIVES TO ARCHER POSE
CLASSIC PIGEON POSE
This yoga pose can help ease pain in your pelvic area and loosen your hip muscles.
- On a mat, get into a downward-facing dog pose by pressing your feet and hands into the mat, straightening your legs and raising your hips upwards.
- Lift the right leg off the floor and bring your right knee to the back of the right wrist.
- Rotate the right shin to place it parallel to the front part of your mat. The other leg should be straight on the ground.
- Bring the right knee outward to position it farther to your right side than your hips.
- Lower your butt gently towards the floor.
- Place your hands under your shoulders and press into your palms to elongate your spine.
- Look forward and take a moment to feel the stretch in your muscles.
ARCHER POSE MISTAKES TO AVOID
BENDING YOUR BACK
Fight as much as you can the temptation to slouch forward as you reach for your toes; this could strain your spine and cause injury.
NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE
You should keep your core squeezed from the first to the last rep to activate the muscles around your pelvis and abdominal area.
HOW TO DEVELOP THE ARCHER POSE
Being an intermediate yoga move, the archer pose can be pretty challenging to beginners.
For some people, it could take a few years to perfect completely.
However, you can shorten the time it takes you to master it by practicing a few preliminary poses to help you develop the flexibility and mobility you need.
Some of these poses include:
The boat pose develops overall coordination, core strength, and balance to help strengthen your upper body and stretch your hamstrings.
You extend your arms and legs so that your body assumes an inverted “A” shape.
BOUND ANGLE POSE
This is a seated yoga pose that relieves your hips of muscle tightness.
To do it, bend and lower your knees to the sides of your body while you bring your heels together.
And to stretch the lower back and open up your hips, bend your upper body forward so that you activate your hamstrings and spinae erector muscles.
MODIFICATIONS OF THE ARCHER POSE
FOR TIGHT THIGHS
Although this exercise can be quite challenging initially, you can gradually build up to the flexibility it needs by working your hamstrings.
To loosen up the hamstrings:
- Begin by reaching the left hand to the left toes and pressing your right sole onto the left thigh.
- Then, put the right hand on the right calf and pull your knee towards your ears.
- Do this until you feel your hamstrings start to loosen.
FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T REACH THE TOES
If you are having trouble holding onto your toes while you raise the opposite foot, use a strap or a towel in the alternative.
Hook the strap around your toes and hold on to it to help you stretch your legs out as you are still working on your flexibility.
FOR TIGHT HIPS
You can loosen tightness in your hips by deepening the knee-to-ear stretch through the following steps:
- Begin with the left hand on your left toe and make your right sole touch the left thigh.
- Rotate your knee to point it towards the ceiling.
- Bring your hands to your right sole. Your right thigh should be parallel to your back.
- Raise your upper body up tall and take a deep breath in and another deep one out.
When done correctly, this exercise can improve your flexibility and mobility while also relieving you of pelvic pain and improving the function of your respiratory system.
However, if you have chronic back or hip pain, or are pregnant, talk to your doctor before trying it out to avoid hurting yourself.