Head to Knee Pose or Janu Sirsasana creates tremendous leg stretch and strengthens and helps to boost energy in the body.
The main story in Janu Sirsasana or Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose is an asymmetrical stretch of the posterior kinetic chain, which also involves the back and back muscles of the straight leg.
Head to knee forward bend pose or Head-on-knee pose has two major energy lines and a third minor line. The first major line runs down to the spine and lines out the crown of your head. The second major line runs under the extended leg and out through the leg. The third row presses into the heel with the bent knee, applying pressure to the tendon along the inner side of the thigh of the extended leg. It’s a short line, but it helps to ensure your alignment by squaring the hips. It also helps propel you forward, allowing you to transfer your body weight onto the straight leg. Your hips will be in the dog’s flexion.
|Know as:||Head to Knee Pose, Janu Sirsasana, Janu Shirshasana A, Seated head to knee pose, Head to knee forward bend pose, Head of the knee pose, Head-on-knee pose|
|Sanskrit name:||जानु शीर्षासन|
|Type:||Forward-Bend, Seated Pose, Hip Opener|
|Total time:||30 to 60 seconds|
|Chahra:||Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Indications:||Backache, headache, insomnia, headache, exhaustion; liver and kidney function, improve digestion|
|Counterposes:||Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose), Supported fish pose|
|Preparatory poses:||Baddha konasana, Supta padangusthasana, Uttanasana|
|Follow-up poses:||Paschimottanasana, Upavistha konasana, Vrksasana|
|Contraindications:||Knee injury, Asthma, Low blood pressure|
Meaning + Origin
Janu Sirsasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of three words – Janu + sirsa + asana:
- “Janu” = “knee“
- “sirsa” = “head“
- “asana” = “pose or posture”
Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose) is an asymmetrical forward bending pose and is considered a great hip opener, which involves simultaneous stretching and twisting. It is related to the primary Ashtanga yoga series and the pose of the beginner level.
While the name of the pose may reveal an intention depending on the physical anatomy, Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose) is really about turning inward and making room for self-reflection. Instead of focusing on the intensity of the pose — or the urge to bring the head to the knee — turn the attention to the stillness and calmness that may be hiding beneath your more prominent sensations.
The pose brings inner peace and calm and hence is practiced as a restorative pose. The stretches involved bring flexibility to the spine, waist and hamstrings.
Benefits of Head to Knee Pose or Janu Shirshasana
Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose (Janu Sirsasana) is recommended for people suffering from low fever for a long time. Individuals suffering from enlargement of the prostate gland will benefit from staying in this yoga posture for a longer period. Practitioners should practice this yoga pose along with “Shoulderstand Pose” to get more benefits.
The physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:
- Physical Benefits:
- Mental Benefits:
- Relieves mild depression
- Reduces stress
- Relieves anxiety
- Soothes the nervous system
Step-by-step Head to Knee Pose or Janu Shirshasana
Sit on the floor and extend both legs straight in front of you.
Bend the right leg and place the sole of the right foot on the inner edge of the left thigh. Bring the right heel to the pubic bone, then slide the right knee forward as far as it will go. Taking the knee forward will bring your hips to the front and align your chest in such a way that it is facing straight ahead. Keep the inner edge of the left foot vertical and spread your toes.
Grab the left foot with the right hand, placing your left hand on the floor adjacent to the left knee. If you can’t reach your foot, hold onto your ankle or shin, or use a strap to stretch the gap.
Tilt the buttocks back and position yourself on the front edge of each sit bone. This establishes the dog’s inclination. Then press the back of your left thigh firmly to the floor, extend your toes, and step forward through the ball of your foot. Wait for the internal signal to proceed.
- As you inhale, extend your spine upward. Use inhalation to help you do this. Lengthen your core, your invisible spine, by lifting the rib cage and chest up, away from the waist.
- Relax the shoulders down, away from the ears, keeping the abdominals in and gently pull with your right hand while pressing down with your left hand.
- Press down with the back edge of your left foot and move up through the fontanelle, moving the tailbone and crown of your head away from each other. This will create a strong stretch in your hamstring muscles of the left leg.
- Take several breaths here, adapting to the intensity of the stretch, then take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, lean forward. Move slowly, side to side, always directing the energy flow forward and outward through the crown.
- Do not bend as deeply as you can at once. Stop when you feel each new edge and wait for the stretch sensations to subside somewhat before turning deeper. Do this over and over again until you can no longer turn back and forth. Eventually, the central line of your trunk and sternum will rest directly on the line of the left inner leg.
- Rest your stomach on your thigh, your chest on your knee and your face on your shin. Bring your nose down to the inner edge of the foot. Grab the left leg with both hands, or hold your wrist ahead of the foot, then sweep them forward and away, keeping the elbows wide.
Activate the left leg. Press the back of your left thigh into the floor, tighten your quadriceps, and extend your left heel away from you, lengthening the Achilles tendon. Then, keeping your heels on the floor and spreading your toes, press the ball of the foot away from you. Turn your foot inward and direct the line of energy through the foot in the direction it is pointing. Simultaneously flex the right heel and press inward with the right knee to square the hips.
Push your core forward horizontally. Do a subtle upward lift with the back of your neck so that you are not resting too much on your leg. Take the shoulders away from your ears, pull gently with your hands, and move the stretch through the crown of your head toward your toes. Step forward toward the foot, not below the knee, and don’t shorten the back of your neck while looking forward. Tilt the buttocks back so that you are as deep as possible, close your eyes and breathe easily.
Monitor the intensity of the stretch. Be prepared to come up a bit if it is rising. Increase or decrease the energy in the lines until the tone of the pose feels right. Organize the whole program with the breath.
Bend your left leg if this stretch is too intense, but keep the inner edge of the left leg vertical and spread your toes. Adapt to the stretch with ease. be at ease. Later, when your legs have lost most of their initial stiffness, you’ll desire more intensity. When this happens, generate more energy by pressing the straight leg.
When you can’t turn back and forth, stay where you are. Remain calm, breathe with awareness, and let go of all unnecessary effort and every trace of stress. Stay here 30 to 60 seconds. Enjoy the way it feels.
Come out of the pose. Bring your hands in line with your hips, then slowly squat down. Sit quietly for a moment and the savor the aftereffects of the asana.
Repeat the pose on the other side. Straighten the right leg, turn the left leg in, and wait for the internal cue to advance. When you’re finished, sit quietly for a few moments and enjoy the way you feel.
Props and modification
To reduce the difficulty in bending forward in Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose), you can use the following props and modifications:
Use a blanket
While doing this yoga asana, keep a folded blanket under your hips. This prevents rounding of your lower back when leaning forward and helps to tilt your pelvis forward.
Use yoga strap
Wrap a yoga strap around the balls of outstretched feet, holding as you lean forward. It increases the stretch in the hamstring muscles while lengthening your spine.
Use folded blankets
Place a pillow/folded blanket under your bent-leg. This will superficially touch the knees to the ground and support the knee and ankle.
Step-by-step Anatomy Engaging Techniques
Activate your hamstrings to flex the knee of your bent-leg. The indication for this is to squeeze your lower leg against your thigh. Flexing, abducting and externally rotating the hip activates your sartorius. Your psoas contributes an external rotation component to this movement.
- Your gluteals and tensor fascia lata work together in Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose).
- Squeeze your buttocks to engage your gluteus maximus. It externally rotates and stretches your hip, drawing your bent knee back and down.
- Maintain joint congruence, especially in your knee. Keeping this in mind, keep your knee hinged and achieve your rotation from your hip.
- Rotate your thigh and lower leg as a unit, like a log. Use your gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae to abduct the thigh outward, drawing your knee back and down.
Contract your quadriceps to straighten your knee. Your tensor fascia lata helps to stabilize the outer part of your knee and helps to flex your hip. Notice how your hamstrings relax and feel different in the stretch when you actively engage your quadriceps, their antagonist. Engage your peroneus longus and brevis muscles on the side of the lower leg to turn your foot out and open your soles.
- Squeeze your torso against the thigh to engage your psoas.
- Activate your abdominals to flex and turn your bent-leg side of the trunk.
- Experience how this action changes the feeling of stretch in the muscles of the lower back, including your quadratus lumborum. This is the result of mutual negation.
- Note that when your femur is flexed, your pelvis tilts forward—an example of coupled motion within your hip. Compare this with how flexing, abducting, and externally rotating your bentleg hip tilts that part of your pelvis back and down.
- Tilting your pelvis in opposite directions creates a “wrinkling” effect on your sacroiliac ligaments and creates a stabilizing bandha in this area.
- Connecting your upper and lower extremities allows you to use the force generated by your arms to stretch the muscles of your back and lower legs.
- Contract your biceps and brachialis to bend the elbows and draw your trunk further over the leg.
- More strongly flex on your bentleg to draw that part of the body toward the extended leg, extending the side of your body.
- If you are holding your foot, accentuate your forearms by pressing the mound forward at the base of your index finger.
- Engage your infraspinatus and minor muscles to rotate your shoulders outward. Keep your hands on the feet and try to raise your arms up. It contracts your anterior deltoids and draws your trunk deeper.
- Finally, engage the lower portions of your trapezius and draw the shoulders away from your ears.
Precautions and contraindications
Since this yoga pose works hard on the legs and lower back, there are some precautions and contraindications when practicing Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose). Some of these are mentioned below:
Lower back pain
If you are troubled by back pain then avoid this yoga pose. In this pose you will notice that one side of your hip is more flexible than the other. One part of your back muscles will be stiffer than the other and can lead to more injury if you move without understanding the movement of your body and therefore, along with severe lower back pain, it will only worsen the condition Will do
If the knee is injured, the stretch that occurs at the back of the knee during the practice of Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose) can aggravate the injured knee. An injured knee will not support the hamstrings and therefore will also create tension in the hamstrings which can lead to greater stiffness during exercise. Hence it is advised to take caution or guidance while practicing this yoga pose individuals with an injured knee.
If there is an injury to the shoulders and neck, it can be difficult to practice the pose as it is necessary to stretch the neck and shoulders forward to reach the knee with the forehead.
Pregnant women should not practice Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose) as bending forward puts pressure on the lower abdomen.
Written by Anjali Kumari. She is a certified yoga instructor, Diploma in Make up, Nails and Beauty, Diploma in Nutrition, Food, Science and Menu Planning. Anjali is the destination of choice for the latest updates, tips and resources in beauty, health and wellness, and all topics that mean the most to today’s woman. Whether it’s advice from a trusted expert or a DIY tutorial, she has it all. She is passionate and obsessive about science and how it can be applied in daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine and proper nutrition is the key to achieving good health and beauty. When she is not working, she likes to spend quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and healthy choices for foods to promote good health.