The word dhanu means ‘bow’ and akarshana means to draw’ or ‘to pull back’. Therefore, in English this asana can be translated as ‘the pose of drawing the bow’. Dhanurakarshanasana emulates an archer pulling back an arrow in a bow immediately before shooting towards the chosen target.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika mentioned dhanurakarshanasana under another name: “Hold
one of the toes with the opposite hand and pull it towards the ear like a bow. This is called dhanurasana.” (1:25) Generally dhanurasana is the name given to another asana’. The above verse is an incomplete description of dhanurakarshanasana.
Sit with the two legs straight in front, straighten the arms and cross them with the right arm uppermost.
Grasp the big toe of the right foot with the fingers of the left hand.
Grasp the big toe of the left foot with the fingers of the right hand.
Pull the right foot under the right arm.
Place the right foot on the left thigh.
Keep the left leg and right arm straight.
Hold the spine and head upright.
Breathe in deeply.
Hold the breath and pull the right big toe towards the left ear; this action resembles the drawing of the bow and arrow.
This is the final pose and is illustrated above.
Hold the right big toe as near as possible to the left ear while retaining the breath.
Try not to bend the head and spine forwards.
Then replace the right leg on the left thigh.
This is the end of 1 round.
Do a few more rounds.
Then straighten the legs and release the hands.
Now the asana has to be repeated in the opposite direction.
Cross the arms with the left arm uppermost.
Grasp each big toe with the fingers of the opposite hand.
Pull the left leg under the left arm and place the left foot on the right thigh.
Breathe in and while holding the breath pull the left big toe towards the right ear.
Remain in this final pose while retaining the breath.
Then replace the left foot on the right thigh.
Breathe out then repeat a few more rounds.