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Urdhva Dhanurasana (Through the Chair)

A look at how to do Urdhva Dhanurasana (Through the Chair) in the Iyengar method.

What is Urdhva Dhanurasana (Through the Chair)?

Urdhva Dhanurasana can be practised lifting up from the chair. The chair gives good lift to the dorsal spine and good opening in the shoulder region. It keeps the pelvis and buttocks from dropping, gives a good “shape” to the pose, and can be useful training even for those who can lift independently.

Bricks can be placed at the wall, for the hands, for those who are having difficulty lifting up. Being elevated on the chair also makes gravity less of an impediment than lifting all the way from the floor.

When to use Urdhva Dhanurasana (Through the Chair)?

Key actions of the upper-back and shoulder region can be learnt from the use of the chair. The chair edge presses into the upper back and allows for the dorsal spine to move in and shoulder blades to press towards the chest. The chair can be positioned so that different parts of the upper back are explored: mid-shoulder-blade, shoulder-blade-tip, or just below the shoulder-blade are all possible locations for the chair edge. The hands can be placed to the floor (for students who are able to lift from here), or taken to flat- or medium-height bricks for those who need more support.

Students experiencing shoulder stiffness might also benefit from taking the hands higher still (and also wider), and pressing up by pushing the wall rather than the bricks or floor.