Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee Pose
Janu sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), may look simple, but it combines elements of a forward fold, twist, and side body stretch. Head to knee pose stretches the hamstrings, low back, and groins and can be adjusted to be very challenging or very relaxing.
Philosophy + Origin
While the name of the pose may seem to reveal an intention based on physical anatomy (head to knee pose), janu sirsasana is really all about turning inward and creating space for self-reflection. Instead of focusing on the intensity of the posture — or a desire to bring your head to your knee — turn your attention to the peace and stillness that may be hiding beneath the more prominent sensations.
- Use a folded blanket under your hips to help keep a forward tilt of your pelvis.
- Place a folded blanket under your extended knee to offer support, especially if the knee doesn’t readily touch the ground.
- Loop a strap around the foot of your extended leg to deepen the stretch in the hamstrings while keeping the spine long.
- To deepen the stretch and increase the intensity of this pose, widen the space between your knees.
- Begin in a seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. If your low back rounds, sit up on some blankets or a pillow.
- Bend your right knee and place the sole of your foot near your left inner thigh, top of your foot on the ground. Option to place a blanket under your right thigh or ankle to support.
- Turn your torso toward your left leg. Inhale to lengthen your torso, exhale to walk your hands forward and reach your chest to your left toes.
- Ground down through your left thigh and reach through your left heel. Keep the front of your torso long and your sternum lifted. If there’s room, option to lower your forehead to your extended leg.
- Lengthen your tailbone behind you to encourage your natural lumbar curve.
- After up to three minutes in janu sirsasana, lift yourself up and out of the posture on an inhalation. Return to seated then repeat on the other side.
- Bound angle pose | Baddha konasana
- Reclined hand to toe pose | Supta padangusthasana
- Standing forward bend | Uttanasana
- Seated forward fold | Paschimottanasana
- Wide angle forward bend | Upavistha konasana
- Tree pose | Vrksasana
- Knees to chest pose | Apanasana
- Supported fish pose
- Janu = knee
- Sirsa = head
- Asana = pose
- Stretches the quadratus lumborum (QL), hamstrings, and groins.
- Thought to provide relief for headaches, menstrual discomfort, digestive issues, and stress.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.
Philosophy + Origin
Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.