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How to bow

Bowing means that our body and mind become one. By using our physical form, we do bowing practice to connect body, breath and mind so that our thinking is cut off and our actions are clear in this moment. Sometimes our body is here but the mind is off somewhere else. Then bowing helps us to bring our mind and body back to correct situation, correct relationship, and correct function moment to moment.

Full Standing Bow

Full Lotus

1. Put your hands in hapchang (palms together as shown at right), feet together.

Half Lotus

2. Bow fully from the hips, keeping your back straight so your chest is parallel to the floor. Your head should be bowed and your hands should remain close to your body.

Full Lotus

3. Return to standing position.

When it is used:

1. For greetings of Monks and Nuns when they are not in the Dharma Room (when we usually do a prostration).

2. For entering or leaving the Dharma Room.

3. Anytime you cross in front of the altar within ten feet of it, except during walking mediation, you must bow to the Buddha using this form.

4. At the beginning and ending of a set of prostrations.


Full Lotus

1. Start in a standing position with the feet together, and the hands in hapchang.

Half Lotus

2. Drop gently to your knees, but still stay in a vertical position sitting on your heels with your hands in hapchang.

Full Lotus
3. Drop forward to all fours so that the right hand is in front of the right knee and same for left.
Half Lotus
4. Rock back and down so that your rear is touching your heels and your forehead is touching the floor. In this position, your hands should be turned over (palms up), touching the mat next to your ears and your left foot should be crossed over the right one. Remain for a moment in this position.
Full Lotus

5. Rock forward and up so that you return to the “all fours” position.

Half Lotus

6. Sit back on your heels and come to a vertical position with your hands in hapchang, resting on the balls of your feet again.

Full Lotus

7. Return to the upright standing position.

Alternate Form:

Pushing off from the kneeling position with the hands to return to the standing position. This is sometimes necessary if our bodies are not well or we have bad knees or our balance is not good.


Common Errors:

1. Not going all the way to the mat.

2. Feet are not crossed.

3. Not having hands in hapchang as you are coming up.

4. Raising your hands above the base of the neck as you are coming up.

5. When doing prostrations during the Homage to the Buddhas chant, paddling or flipping your feet to get your Dharma Teacher robe off your heels. The correct way is to put your hands further out in front of you (maybe a foot in front of the mat) and this will pull the robe off your heels

6. During the standing bows at the beginning and ending of the prostration set, not bringing the hands up into hapchang position at the beginning and ending of the bow when the body is in the vertical position.

7. Not bowing together with other people – highest ranking teacher begins the bowing and sets the pace.


108 Prostrations

1. Begin in the standing bow position with you feet together and you hands in hapchang

2. Do a Full Standing Bow

3. Do 108 Prostrations

4. At the end of the 108th Prostration come up to the kneeling position and then bow down again to the full prostration position (head touching mat) – this is often called a “half prostration”

5. Return to the standing bow position

6. Do a Full Standing Bow