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Head to Knee Pose (janu sirsasana)

Seated forward bend that stretches back of your legs and waist.

Head to Knee Pose (or janu sirsasana) provides an intense stretch to the back of your legs, particularly your straight leg. This pose also stretches the back of your waist and lengthens your spine.
Although this pose is called Head to Knee Pose, you should focus on lowering your abdomen toward your thigh instead of trying to reach your head down to your knee. You should also focus on keeping your sitting bones in even contact with the floor as you drop your bent knee toward the floor. If your bent knee is high up off the floor, you can move your foot further away from your groin.
When you first start practicing Head to Knee Pose, you may find you cannot bend very far forward. Keep in mind that maintaining a straight and lengthened spine is more important than bending forward as far as possible. If necessary, you can use a strap around the foot of your straight leg for support as you bend forward.
Avoid performing this pose if you have slipped discs in your back or knee or back problems.
Begin in Staff Pose.
Bend your left leg and place the sole of your left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Let your left knee drop toward the floor.
(Your right foot should be flexed, with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.)
Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, with your palms facing each other.
Exhale as you bend forward from your hips over your right leg. Then clasp the sides of your right leg or foot.
Drop your pelvis forward and down to lengthen your spine.
(Keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line.)
Press forward through the heel of your right foot and the crown of your head as you press back through your sitting bones.
Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds, releasing further into the pose with each exhalation. Then return to Staff Pose.
Repeat steps 2 to 7 with your right leg bent.
(After performing Head to Knee Pose, perform Inclined Plane Pose as a counter pose.)
You can perform Head to Knee Pose using a strap for support. Perform Head to Knee Pose, except wrap a strap around the foot of your straight leg and hold an end of the strap in each hand. Make sure you do not use the strap to pull yourself forward.
How can I make Head to Knee Pose easier?
You can place your palms on the floor on either side of your straight leg. This modification reduces the strain in the back of your straight leg and also helps keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line as you bend forward. If you still feel a lot of tension or discomfort in the back of your straight leg, you can bend the knee of your straight leg slightly. As you gain more flexibility, straighten your leg a little more each time you perform the pose.
How can I prevent my lower back from rounding in Head to Knee Pose?
Sitting on a cushion or folded blankets can help prevent your lower back from rounding in this pose. This modification also supports your pelvis and helps to relieve tension in your lower back and the back of your straight leg.
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