Head to Knee Pose / Janu Sirsasana

Open your hips and release tension in the lower back while getting a deep stretch for each individual leg. Practice Janu Sirsasana as a stand alone asana or as a preparation to come deeper into the Seated Forward Bend. This forward-bending variation is usually practiced before Paschimottanasana. It is a stretch for the lumbar-thoracic region of the spine, and there are three different methods of practicing this asana, each more advanced and giving more benefits than the last.

Benefits:

  • Stretches and releases tension in lumbar and thoracic regions of back
  • Provides a deep stretch for the hamstrings
  • Stretches and opens the hip
  • Variation 2: massages the abdominal organs, deeper stretch for the hip
  • Variation 3: Stretches the shoulder muscles and provides a deeper stretch for thoracic region

Variations 1, 2, 3

Instructions:

Variation 1 and 2*

1. Sit with the legs stretched out in front. Bend the left knee and place the foot above or below the opposite knee, against the thigh or calf. The bent knee should be relaxed towards the floor. *For variation 2, place the left foot on top of the right thigh in half lotus, keeping the knee down (if the knee is floating off the floor practice variation 1).

2. Inhale, stretch the arms up, exhale and reach forward, try to hold the right foot with both hands. Bring the head down towards the right knee. Breathe deeply. Hold up to 1 minute.

3. To come out, reaching forward inhale stretch the arms up, exhale, release. Repeat on the other side.


 

Variation 3

Instructions:

1. Place the left foot on top of the right thigh, keeping the bent knee down.

2. Reach the left hand behind the back and hold the big toe of the left foot.

3. Inhale, reach the right arm up, exhale, fold forward and hold the right foot. Breathe into the abdomen.

4. Inhale, reach up, and exhale release. Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Do not move onto Variation 2/3 unless you can keep the knee completely on the floor. If the knee is not comfortably on the floor in this asana it may may put extra strain on the knee.
  • There are many hand positions, you may wrap the index fingers and thumbs around the big toe, interlace the fingers behind the back of the feet, or let the hands rest on the thigh, shin or floor. Relaxation is key: hold wherever is comfortable with the toes pointing back towards the head.
  • Square the body towards the straight leg. Do not twist the abdomen.

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