(Janu Sirsasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Beginner

Head to Knee Forward Bend

(Janu Sirsasana)

Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning in Staff Pose (Dandasana).  Right knee bends, sole of the right foot rests lightly on the left inner thigh (avoiding the knee).  Left leg extends onto the mat, knee and thigh facing the ceiling, hamstring and calf pressing down into the mat, muscles of thigh engaged, left foot flexed, energy out the heel.  

2

On an inhalation, arms come slightly forward and up, reaching toward ceiling, fingers spread wide.  Hips neutral, low abs firm in and up, knitting front ribs finding length in the front, sides and back of the torso.  Tailbone yearns down, grounding into the mat.  

3

On an exhalation, torso folds over the extended leg, heart facing the shin.  Arms come alongside extended leg or hands come to hold the left foot (without reaching). Ribcage remains neutral front to back.  Head in line with neck, gaze toward toes of extended leg.

4

Breath is steady, extended leg and abdominals energized and engaged, soften tops of shoulders away from the ears.

5

To come out of the pose, on an inhalation, torso rises back to an upright position, arms up reaching toward the ceiling. On an exhalation hands come to prayer at heart center. Prepare for the second side.

Variations/Modifications

  • Blanket or block underneath seat to elevate hips
  • Use a strap around extended foot
  • Rest hands palms up along extended leg (shoulder injury)
  • Bend extended leg

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Builds stability in the hips and pelvis
  • Stretches the low back, spinal extensors, hamstrings and groins
  • Calms the mind and improves digestion
  • Relieves anxiety, fatigue and headaches

Contraindications

  • Knee Injury
  • Hamstring Injury
  • Shoulder Injury (see modifications)
  • Breathing and Respiratory Issues

Thoughtful Sequencing

Staff (Dandasana), Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana) Right and Left, Staff (Dandasana), Bound Angle/Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)Boat (Navasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana).