Archer Pose - Akarna Dhanurasana

Archer Pose


Archer Pose also known as Akarna Dhanurasana (AH-kar-nah dhon-oor-AH-sah-nah) is an intermediate-level yoga posea that helps to improve focus, balance, and flexibility. This pose is a combination of stretching, balancing, and twisting movements that engage various muscles in the body, particularly the legs, hips, and back.
The word Akarna Dhanurasana is derived from the Sanskrit language where “Karna” means “Ear”, “Dhanura” means “Bow”, and “Asana” is “Pose”. The term “Karna” has “A” as a prefix which means “Near” or “Towards.
In English, the pose is known as Archer pose since the pose resembles the action of an archer drawing an arrow from the bow. To attain this posture, you have to draw one of your feet closer to the ear while the other leg stays extended on the ground. You can also call it Shooting Bow Pose, or Bow-And-Arrow Pose.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Come to a seat on the earth with your legs extended out in front of you and your spine long. This is Dandasana.
Step 2
Keep the sit bones rooted into the earth as you lean forward and grab a hold of your big toes with first the thumb, index and middle of each hand. Then straighten the arms and legs.
Step 3
Maintain the arms and legs straight as you lift the right foot and leg as high as possible.
Step 4
Bend right knee and point it straight in back of you. The sole of the right foot is inline with the right ear. The right elbow is also pointing straight back.
Step 5
Engage the left thigh, firm the kneecap and hamstring. Press the left leg in to the earth and reach through the left heel and flex the toes towards the body.
Step 6
Maintain length in the spine and keep the sit bones rooted into the earth.
Step 7
Soften the gaze straight ahead.
Step 8
To release the posture, gently extend and place the right leg back onto the earth, Then release the grip around the big toes and bring the spine back to perpendicular to the earth. Repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits and Contraindications


Encourages proper elimination

Improves flexibility in the legs

Tones core muscles

Stretches the spine

Relieves back pain

Improves your concentration and focus


Shoulder or hamstring injury

Lower back problems

Herniated disk



Modifications and Props for Beginners

  • If you’re new to the pose, start by holding onto your ankle instead of your toe. As you become more comfortable with the pose, work your way up to holding onto your toe.
  • If you have tight hips or limited flexibility, you can use a folded blanket or bolster underneath your hips to elevate them slightly. This can help to reduce the strain on your hips and lower back, making the pose more comfortable.
  • If you can’t reach your toes with your opposite hand, you can use a strap or towel to extend your reach. Loop the strap around your foot and hold onto the ends with your opposite hand. You can also hold onto the strap with both hands to deepen the stretch.
  • If you have difficulty balancing in the pose, you can use a wall or chair for support.

Useful Tips

  • To begin with, always make sure that you go through a proper warm-up session to avoid any muscle strain.
  • Like any other exercise, you must synchronise your breath and movements while doing this yoga.
  • Start with the preparatory poses if you find the archer’s pose difficult.
  • You can also practice easier versions of the same exercise prior to trying the advanced asana.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can beginners practice Archer Pose?

While Archer Pose is an intermediate yoga pose, beginners can practice the pose with modifications or with the support of props. It is important to work within your limits and avoid forcing the body beyond its capacity.

Is Archer Pose safe for everyone?

Archer Pose is generally safe for most people, but it may not be suitable for those with certain injuries or health conditions, such as knee or hip injuries, back pain, or digestive issues.

How can I progress in Archer Pose?

You can progress in Archer Pose or Akarna Dhanurasana by gradually increasing the duration of the pose and by working on the full expression of the pose, which involves holding onto your big toe with your hand. You can also try different variations of the pose, such as twisting deeper or adding a bind. As with any yoga pose, progress should be slow and steady, and always listen to your body’s signals.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in Archer Pose?

Some common mistakes to avoid in Archer Pose include rounding the spine, collapsing forward, and forcing the torso to twist beyond its capacity. It is important to maintain proper alignment and to listen to your body’s signals.


Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings. After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva. To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics. Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga. At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.