Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee Pose

JanuSirsasana-NicoLuce

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.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • 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.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Lengthen your tailbone behind you to encourage your natural lumbar curve.
  6. 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.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

  • Knees to chest pose | Apanasana
  • Supported fish pose
  • Savasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Janu = knee
  • Sirsa = head
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches the quadratus lumborum (QL), hamstrings, and groins.
  • Thought to provide relief for headaches, menstrual discomfort, digestive issues, and stress.


Agnistambhasana: Firelog Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS   |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Agnistambhasana (AG-nee-stahm-BAHS-ah-nah) is sometimes referred to as double pigeon pose because the legs take a similar shape as they do in pigeon pose. Firelog pose creates a deep stretch in the outer hips and space in the low back.

Philosophy + Origin

Fire (agni) is a transformative element. Agnistambhasana can be very uncomfortable as many people carry deep tension in their hips. See if you can feel the fire building in your hips and with your breath as you hold this pose.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Sit on a folded blanket or block to create more space for your hips.
  • Place your top leg in front of your bottom leg (rather than on top of it) to ease pressure on the knees.
  • Use a block under your top ankle to release pressure on your bottom leg.
  • Use a block under your top knee to help the hip relax and to relieve discomfort in the knee.
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