Urdhva Dhanurasana – Weekly Advanced Class 187

Focus: Improving shoulder mobility in urdhva dhanurasana. For urdhva dhanurasana to be a balanced pose it needs simultaneous mobility from multiple regions of the body. The ability to spread the workload of the pose among the legs, lower back, upper back, shoulders and arms can bring a sense of lightness and ease to a pose that can otherwise feel heavy and strenuous. Generally in yoga poses, when one part of the body is under working, another part of the body will be over working. This is particularly the case with the relationship between the shoulders and the lower back in urdhva dhanurasana. Finding extra space for your shoulders can help to remove the risk of strain on your lumbar spine. This class helps you to improve shoulder mobility whilst practicing urdhva dhanurasana. It includes techniques and variations that will assist you to bypass shoulder stiffness and create a more balanced and composed asana.

Key Poses: Urdhva dhanurasana.

Equipment: Mat, chair, bolster, blanket, 2 blocks.

Level: Advanced

Duration: 35 min




  1. Claudio S

    Hi Rod: I don´t have problems to reach the full pose but I feel pain in the inner part of one shoulder… Like an impingement, do have any suggestion to open the shoulder and avoid this sensation?
    Thanks for your classes, very clear…

    • Rod

      Hi Claudio,

      I’ve experienced shoulder impingement myself a few years back. Urdhva dhanurasana was one of the more difficult poses during that time. In order to create more space in the shoulder region whilst fully in this pose you really need to be able to borrow from other areas and this can lead towards imbalance. A shoulder niggle can easily lead towards a lower back issue for instance.

      This pose can potentially irritate the impingement so I would go easy. I found that I was better off addressing the impingement with other, more specific shoulder poses where I was not weight bearing on my arms. It might be that a couple of sessions a week improving general shoulder mobility, in all of the possible ranges of movement will be beneficial. You will probably be surprised by how this will actually improve your backbends indirectly.

      Luckily urdhva dhanurasana is a pose with a multitude of supported variations. I imagine that viparita dandasana over a chair extending your arms with a belt around your wrists will feel much freeer. You can then start bringing your hands to the wall and progressively walking lower down the wall as the shoulder improves. You can use the impingement sensation as a guide to how far you go. This worked for me at least.

      Good luck with it. Let me know how it goes.
      Best wishes, Rod.

  2. Di

    Thanks Fiona, pleased to hear you enjoyed the class.

  3. Fiona R

    Thanks Rod. I liked the way this class focused on the shoulder action in Urdhva Dhanurasana.

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