Head to Knee Pose  -Janu Sirsasana

Step by step

  • Sit with the legs outstretched in front of you (Staff Pose / Dandasana).
  • Bend your right knee and place the right foot against the left inner thigh, relaxing the knee down.
  • As you inhale, flex the left foot, press the top of the thigh down, lengthen the spine and raise your arms either side of your head.
  • Rotate your upper body slightly so you are facing the left leg and then fold forward from the hips as you exhale.
  • Keep your spine long, chest open and shoulders relaxed.
  • Place your hands down, framing your left leg, or take hold of your ankle or foot.
  • Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
  • Inhale, as you come out of the pose.

Beginners tips

  • If you find it difficult to tilt the pelvis forward, sit up on a folded blanket or cushion. Work on maintaining length in your spine, sitting upright rather than folding forward.
  • Try using a strap around the ball of your foot to keep your spine long while folding forward. Just don’t pull it forcefully.
  • Bend your knee as much as you need to fold from the hips. 

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.
  • If the back extended knee feels uncomfortable, bend it slightly and place a blanket underneath.
  • Skip this pose if you have any lower back pain.

Variations

  • 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.
  • 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.