Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) via flckr https://www.flickr.com/photos/yogamama-co-uk/3794871886/
Pronunciation: JAH-noo sheer-SHAH-suh-nuh
Pose Type: Seated

Head to knee pose, or Janu Sirsasana, is a deep forward bend that calms the mind and relieves stress and tension from the body. It is often practiced along with Staff Pose (Dandasana) at the end of a sequence when the body is warm. While the pose is named ‘head to knee’ the most important aspect of the pose is not getting the head to the knee, but keeping the torso long throughout the pose to bring a deep stretch to the hamstrings and back without over rounding the spine.

Janu Sirsasana is a mild spinal twist that deeply stretches the legs, groin, and entire spine. If is therapeutic for high blood pressure and insomnia, so it’s an excellent stretch before bedtime. If you cannot reach the extended foot with your hands, use a strap around the ball of the foot to close the gap.

Pose Sequence

You will begin this pose from a seated position on the floor:

  1. Stretching your legs straight out in front of you, bring the sole of one foot to the inside of the other thigh.
  2. Align the center of your torso with the straight leg creating a mild twist, keeping your spine long and extended.
  3. As you exhale, hinge from the hips to fold over the straight leg, keeping the bent leg firmly on the floor.
  4. On every exhale allow your torso to sink a little further into the pose; on every inhale allow your spine to extend further.

To release, draw your tailbone down toward the floor as you inhale and rise up from the pose. Extend the bent leg and repeat the pose on the other side. Don’t worry if one side is tighter than the other, that’s normal.

Benefits of Head to Knee Pose

The benefits of this pose include:

  • Stimulates the kidneys and liver
  • Stretches the hips, back of the body, and groin
  • Stimulates digestion and relieves insomnia
  • Calms the mind

Janu Sirsasana is a deep stretch to the legs, hips, and groin but it should not be forced. Pulling yourself further in the pose usually causes the spine to round and that’s not the end goal.

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By Virginia O'Connor

Co-founder of AudibleYoga.com and writer/content manager.