Head to Knee Pose  -Janu Sirsasana

Step by step

  • Sit with the legs outstretched in front of you (Staff Pose / Dandasana).
  • Inhale bend your right knee and place the right foot against the left inner thigh, exhale let the right knee rest on (or towards) the floor.
  • Flex the left foot, press the top of the thigh down, lengthen the spine on an inbreath and on an outbreath turn the spine a little to face the left leg and then fold forward from the hips.
  • Keep your spine long, chest open and shoulders drawn down. Relax your face.
  • Take hold of your foot, ankle or wherever your hands reach on your leg. If your hands come past your foot you can take hold of the right wrist with the left hand and bind around the left foot
  • Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
  • Inhale to come out of the pose.

Beginners tips

  • Sit up on a folded blanket if you find it difficult to sit up straight. You can work on maintaining a long spine sitting upright rather than folding forward in the pose.
  • Use a strap or belt. Loop it over the balls of the feet and hold an end in each hand. This can help you keep length in the spine instead of rounding the back too much in order to reach your feet.

Benefits

  • Calms the mind.
  • Stimulates digestion.
  • Stretches the hips, back of the body and groins.
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort.
  • Stimulates the kidneys and liver.

Watch out for

  • Be careful not to pull yourself forcefully into the forward bend (especially if you are using a strap). This will hunch the back and shorten the front of the body.
  • Knee injuries: if you feel pain or discomfort in the bent knee, place a blanket under it for extra support.
  • Pain in the back of the knee in straight leg: place a small blanket/pillow under the knee. Or keep the knee bent slightly.
  • It is not advisable to perform this pose if you have low back injury, asthma or diarrhea.

Variations

  • Deepen this pose by widening the angle between the two legs. This happens by bringing the bent knee further back.
  • You may see a similar looking pose in a Yin yoga class. In Yin yoga it is called Half-Butterfly. The difference being that in Yin yoga the student relaxes into the pose rather than using muscular effort to get into a forward bend. So the back is more rounded and soft and the legs are relaxed. The pose is held for between 3 and 5 minutes in a Yin yoga practice.