Soft Power: Locked, Loaded, and Ready to Take Aim


Indian mythology is littered with stories and references to the bow and arrow. Dhanurasana or shooting bow pose is representative of its importance in the history of yoga. The Ramayana tells the story of Shiva’s celestial bow, the Mahabharata tells the epic story of the battle at Kurukshetra which heavily featured the use of bows and arrows, and the Mundaka Upanishad uses archery as a metaphor for spiritual practice.


The mantra Om is used as the bow, and the soul is represented by the arrow, the senses are the string. The idea is that by pulling back the string and withdrawing the senses from the claims of the sense objects brings a state of meditation. With repetition and devoted practice, the soul can become as one-pointed as an arrow. This focus will ultimately lead to a state of union or yoga of the mind, body and spirit, and this is the ultimate soft power.


Bow pose opens and activates the fourth chakra in the heart (Anahata). The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga equates this with The Law of Giving and Receiving. Opening the and awakening this energy center allows us to be fully present in our relationships. Clarity in Anahata, the heart center enables us to give and receive love without fear or attachment.


My beloved teacher Deepak Chopra says, “The Law of Giving and Receiving reminds us to be conscious of the flow of life. When our intention is to expand happiness, every action of either giving or receiving becomes life supporting. Our breath is a perpetual expression of this law because when we resist inhaling or exhaling, we experience discomfort.”


How to do Bow Pose This full-frontal stretch and fatigue-fighting posture will leave you feeling empowered and energized and can be modified to accommodate beginners. This posture is the perfect antidote to too much time sitting in front of computers of hunched over devices.


Physiologically, engaging with and opening the heart center allows us to find a sense of balance and equanimity even in times of stress and even heartbreak so that we can hold space for love, hope and healing. In my meditation practice, I often use the white flowers of peace meditation to offer hope and healing to the world. For my personal power and self-love practice I tone my chakras using sound vibration.


Move in the direction of what resonates most with your own heart, which will allow a more authentic, awakened you to come to life. Use your soft power to foster wisdom and healing in your life and in the world.