Paschimottanasana, the counter asana for urdhva dhanurasana


Usually we move in and out of an asana, which is more or less a dynamic movement, the vinyasa. There is the asana itself. After each asana it’s recommended to practice a counter asana.

The series of Ashtanga yoga have this sturcture.

A balanced yoga class choreography is built the same way.

After a twist to the right side follows a twist to the left side. After a back bending asana follows a slight forward bending asana and the other way round. When doing inversions, it’s good to practice child’s pose afterwards.

In Ashtanga yoga after urdhva dhanurasana comes pashimottanasana, this deep forward bending asana. At once.

For me it always hurt at the lower back when I had to get so quickly into that asana. To get straight from a deep back bending asana to a deep forward bending asana was painful in an unhealthy way. Perhaps I’ve prepared my socrialiac joint issues with this aggressive counter pose.

Lately I went to Sivananda yoga classes. They also practice urdhva dhanurasana in every yoga class. After urdhva dhanurasana one lies on the back with bent legs, so that the back can relax. It’s a soft counter pose. Usually my body is very soon ready for deeper forward bending asanas, yet to go straight and with one breath into that deep forward folding pose felt never good.

When I go straight from urdhva dhanursana to paschimottanasana I do it very very slowly these days. I take all the time that is needed so that it feels good. First I sit with straight legs on the floor. After a while I move the upper body forward.

These days I listen much more to my body. I take my time, always. Nothing worse than back injuries. At home I can adjust my practice.

The pictures show counter asanas that I love to practice after urdhva dhanurasana. They serve the same purpose than paschimottanasana that is to balance the body, but they are much softer. Why not adding several counter asanas before paschimottanasana? Sometimes I do this. It’s relaxing for the back.