Updated: Jul 11, 2020
By Allison Ray Jeraci
Photo by Andrea Killam
One day, after teaching a backbend class that included ardha dhanurasana (half bow pose) but not dhanurasana (bow pose), a student approached me and asked why I hadn’t taught the “full pose.” It was an intriguing question. Ardha means “half,” so it can be easy to deduce that ardha dhanurasana is but half of an equation. So I began to wonder: What makes one pose “full” and another, well, “less full”?
After thinking about it for days, I took the question to the mat. I set aside some time to practice going back and forth between half bow and bow. I wanted to understand and experience for myself, in my own body, what made bow “full” and half bow not.
What I discovered was that while half bow did not have anything less to offer, it did offer something different. I also found that the pose requires just as much focus and effort as dhanurasana, and that it is in fact a “full pose” in its own right.