Janu Sirsasana - Head to knee pose
Janu Sirsasana or head-to-knee forward bend, it's a seated forward fold. The pose intends to extend and lengthen the spine and stretch the back by folding the body over one of the legs with the head resting on the knee. The other leg is bent so that the sole of the feet rests towards the inner thigh. The foot can also be tucked underneath the body or placed towards the groin with the toes pointing down.
In Sanskrit: janu = knee, sirsa = head, asana = pose
Benefits of the Janu Sirsasana
Head to knee increases flexibility in the hamstrings, back, thighs, hip joints, and shoulders. It is a restorative, calming pose that soothes the mind and the emotions. The folding of the upper body helps to stimulate the inner organs and systems, including the nervous- digestive-, endocrine- and urinary systems.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight. If necessary, you can sit on a block or a pillow to lift your buttocks. Bend your right knee and place the sole of the foot towards your left thigh. Your shin is now at a right angle to the left leg. You have the option to support your right knee with a pillow or blanket to make it rest comfortably.
- Sit up straight by supporting your back with your hands on the floor on both sides of the body. Turn your upper body slightly to the left so that your belly button is lined up with the center of the left thigh.
- Fold forward over your left leg. Make sure the fold is from the left hip crease and that your back is straight. Reach forward to interlace your fingers around the feet. If this is not possible, you can place your hands on your shins or use a strap to reach.
- Place your head on your knees. If this is not possible with straight legs (it most likely won’t be in the beginning), bend your legs so that you can rest your forehead on your knees.
- Relax your shoulders, neck, and face. To get out of the pose, you raise your arms over your head on an inhale and straighten both of your legs. Then repeat the pose on the other side.
Tips and modifications
- Sit on a block or a pillow if you feel that you need to lift your buttocks
- Use a strap around the foot of the straight leg if you can’t reach with your hands all the way to the foot or shin.
- Make sure your spine is straight when you fold the body. The goal is not to reach the toes but to extend your spine and stretch the back of the body.
- Put a blanket or a pillow under the bent knee to reduce pressure on the knee joint.