Karna means the ear. The prefix a expresses the sense of near to, towards. Dhanu means a bow. In Akarna Dhanurasana, the left foot is pulled up till the heel touches the ear as an archer pulls the bow-string, while the other hand holds the right big toe, this leg lying straight on the floor. In the second movement the raised leg is straightened up until it is almost perpendicular, the big toe being held throughout by the hand like an extended bow. The asana is given below in two movements.
- Sit on the floor with the legs stretched straight in front.
- Hold the right big toe between the right thumb and the index and middle fingers. Similarly hold the left big toe.
- Exhale, bend the left elbow and lift the left foot up by bending the knee. Take a breath. Now exhale and pull the left foot up until the heel is close to the left ear. At the same time draw the left arm back from the shoulder. Do not let go of the right big toe. Keep the right leg extended throughout and see that the back of the entire leg rests on the floor. The extended right leg should not bend at the knee.
- Hold this position from 15 to 20 seconds with normal breathing. This is the first movement.
- Now exhale and stretch the left leg up vertically. Take a breath. Exhale; draw the leg further back until it touches the left ear. Continue to grip the toes of both feet and fully extend both legs. Do not bend them at the knees. It takes some time to learn to balance in this second movement. Remain in this position from 10 to I 5 seconds, breathing normally.
- Exhale, bend the left leg at the knee and bring the left heel to the left ear as in position 3 above. Then lower the left leg to the floor and keep both legs stretched on the floor.
- Repeat the pose on the right side, pulling the right foot towards the right ear and raising it up vertically near the right ear, while keeping the left leg straight on the floor. Do not relax the hand grip of the toes. Maintain the position on both sides for an equal length of time. Then release the hands and relax.
Effects of Akarna Dhanurasana
The practice of Akarna Dhanurasana makes the leg muscles very flexible. The abdominal muscles are contracted and this helps to move the bowels. Minor deformities in the hip joints are adjusted. The lower portion of the spine is exercised. The pose is full of grace. It should be practised until it comes effortlessly and gives the appearance of a trained archer discharging arrows from his bow.
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