Yoga Poses

Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose /Janu Sirsasana

Steps

Begin in a seated pose with the legs extended.  Bend the left leg, drawing the sole of the foot to the upper inside of the right thigh.  The left knee should rest comfortably on the floor. Bring both hands to either side of the right leg.    Inhale and turn towards the extended leg.  Exhale and fold forward.   Breathe slowly and deeply for five breaths.   To come out of the pose, inhale back to the start position.  Repeat the other side.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

Awareness is on the stretching and lengthening of the back and legs, while at the same time massaging the internal organs. To encourage relaxation rather than straining of these areas compare the hips to a hinge and the torso to a door. The movement begins at the hips. To close the door, lift the torso out of the hips and fold. To open, hinge and lift up.

Technical Comments

Check that hips are even balanced and supported with blanket or folded mat if needed. Bend the left leg towards the body, placing the sole of the foot against the inner thigh. The heel should be near to or gently pressing against the perineum. Keep the left hip, outer thigh and knee on the floor, using a blanket and folded mat if needed. To make the folded twist - lift the torso and turn –bring the navel in line with the knee. Relax the back muscles, lengthen the spine and fold forward at the hips. The fore head should touch or be pointing towards the knee. Try to avoid rounding, twisting the shoulders or flexing the back. Work towards the full pose with props such as a blanket, folded mat and bolsters.

Benefit Comments

  • Stretches back and hamstrings
  • Increases flexibility of hips
  • Tones abdomen
  • Massages internal organs of liver, pancreas, spleen, uro-genital system, kidneys
  • Improves circulation to nerves and muscles of spine, back and pelvis

Watch Out For:

  • Clutching foot , tugging on strap and straining the back to extend forward – advise students to lift the torso out of the hips and walk hands along the floor, leg or strap.
  • Bent knee off the floor – place blanket, folded mat or block under leg or knee
  • Rounding shoulders and flexion of back – place bolster on lap

Contraindications

Begin in a seated pose with the legs extended. Bend the left leg, drawing the sole of the foot to the upper inside of the right thigh. The left knee should rest comfortably on the floor. Bring both hands to either side of the right leg. Inhale and turn towards the extended leg. Exhale and fold forward. Breathe slowly and deeply for five breaths. To come out of the pose, inhale back to the start position. Repeat the other side.

Modifications

  • Place blanket or folded mat under the seat to support lower back and even out the hips
  • Place blanket or folded mat under the bent leg to support hips and knees which are off the ground or uncomfortable in this position
  • Bring a strap around the foot of the extended leg to support forward fold and back extension
  • Pregnancy yoga – use all of the above and if need place bolsters on top or either side of extended leg

Variations

  • Revolving head-to-knee (parivritti janu sirsasana) – Begin in head-to-knee pose. Widen the legs so they make a v shape with the heel of right foot in the middle. Place right arm to inside of right knee and hold the arch of the foot toe as left arm revolves over reaching for left toe. Rotate the chest upward. Repeat same on other side.
  • Binding head-to-knee (advanced janu sirsasana) Begin in head-to-knee pose. Bring the bent leg foot to rest on the upper thigh as in half locust pose. Bring the same side arms around the back of the waist to hold the toe. Now turn towards extended leg and fold forward.
  • Standing head-to-knee pose (Utthita janu sirsasana) Bring feet to hips or shoulders width apart. Lift torso and hinge forward. Bring hands to backs of knees or thighs and bring head between knees.

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Forward bend (paschimottasana)
  • Half Lord of the fishes – (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  • Bridge pose with 1 leg out stretched
  • ½ side plank

Written By: Brenda Hamlet RYT 200

Written by Brenda Hamlet RYT 200. Brenda is a yoga teacher and journalist in Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at www.pret-a-yoga.com

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