Head to Knee Pose
- Stretches your spine, back muscles, hamstrings, and groins.
- Massages and stimulates your internal organs like the liver and kidneys.
- Improves digestion and helps heal gastric ailments.
- Calms the mind and central nervous system.
- Relieves anxiety, fatigue, headache, and menstrual discomfort.
- Helps relieve symptoms of menopause.
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, depression, and insomnia.
- Knee injuries - Avoid flexion of the injured knee if discomfort occurs. Try performing with the bent knee supported on a folded blanket.
- Low back injury especially if history of lumbar disc herniation.
- Elevate your hips by sitting on a cushion or folded blanket to encourage the forward bend to occur at the hip joint and not the low back.
- Place a folded blanket or cushion under your bent knee if your knee does not comfortably release onto the ground.
- To aid the stretch in your hamstrings and reduce the use of your hip flexors, use a strap by looping it around the sole of the foot. Keep a steady hold onto the strap with your chest open and your front torso lengthened.
- Most important - Avoid pulling yourself forcefully forward when using a strap.
Janu Sirsasana(JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna)
janu = kneesirsa = head
- Sit on the floor and elevate your sitbones on a block or folded blanket.
- Lengthen your left leg straight out from your hip joint and bend your right knee, and place the bottom of the foot comfortably against the inner left thigh.
- To create a deeper stretch, place the right heel back toward your perineum. If the heel is drawn into the perineum, the shin bone will be at a right angle to the left leg.
- The right leg and knee should comfortably release into the ground. If not, support your right knee with a folded blanket underneath it.
- To improve your alignment, shift your left sit-bone and pelvis back enough to feel your hip points (ASIS) creating a perpendicular line with your left leg.
- Continue to position your torso so your navel and chest will line up square with your left leg.
- Place the hands beside the hips for support.
- Inhale and extend tall through the top the head creating length in the front torso and belly.
- Exhale and lightly send length and energy down your left leg as though you are reaching through the ball of the foot. This will send a spreading motion into the toes. If the stretch is deep, remain here keeping your toes vertical. You may wish to use a strap around the left foot to aid your pelvic alignment and keep the spine evenly lengthened.
- If your back and hamstrings feel open, inhale and reach up with both arms creating more length in your spine. Exhale and fold forward from the very base of the hip joints feeling that you are coming forward from the groins and to the front of the sit bones. The hands come down to rest on either side of the left thigh as you continue to lengthen the front of the torso from the pubis to the sternum.
- The hands may reach forward all the way to hold the left foot. Be mindful as to not to pull yourself forcefully into the forward bend. Rounding the spine and pulling forward can lead to injury.
- Continue to fold over your left leg, if the back and hamstrings permit, keeping the original alignment of hips and torso. Keep the breath slow and steady. Encourage the breath to fill the back body, groins, and back of your left leg
- To increase the integrity of the pose, keep your right foot active. Energetically, engage the top of the right foot into the floor and press your right heel toward the inner groin of the left leg. Remain in the pose for one to three minutes.
- To exit, contract your core abdominal mucles and, with an inhalation, lift your torso back to vertical. Lengthen the right leg forward and shake both legs. Repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.