Uta’s Insights: Yoga Pose of the Week — 12. Head Beyond the Knee Pose

August 26, 2014 By Uta Pippig
Photo 3. © Take The Magic Step

Head Beyond the Knee Pose — Janu Sirsasana

Photo 1. © Take The Magic Step
Photo 1. © Take The Magic Step

Janu Sirsasana is a good stretch for the hamstrings and lower back muscles. It stimulates spleen, kidneys, and liver and improves digestion. It is also therapeutic for blood pressure and insomnia.

I would never miss practicing this asana within my yoga program because I appreciate its calming effect so much. I encourage my clients and fellow athletes to practice the final moves of Janu Sirsasana with closed eyes to achieve an even deeper relaxation.

Sometimes I find that athletes who have particularly tight hamstrings and friends who are new to yoga get significant stretching benefits from the initial sitting position of the asana. So, feeling a stretch simply sitting up is fine — and can be satisfying for those new to this exercise.

How to practice the Head Beyond the Knee pose:

  1. Photo 2. © Take The Magic Step
    Photo 2. © Take The Magic Step

    My first piece of advice is that you move gently into the pose and try to avoid overstretching. It is okay to bend your knee slightly if you feel discomfort. As mentioned, feeling a stretch while sitting upright or with a slight forward bend as you reach your hands towards your knee is fine.

  2. Sit on the mat with your legs together and straight out in front of you. Your arms are on your sides while your hands touch the mat. Bend your right leg, placing the sole of the right foot up against your left inner thigh. Keep your hips square (see photo 1).
  3. Inhale and raise your arms up and over your head towards the ceiling. Rotate from the lower belly, turning the torso to the left as you maintain a lengthened spine.
  4. With the next exhalation, gently move the upper body forward. Grasp your left leg or foot as far down as possible, keeping the left leg engaged with toes pointing up. The pelvis should remain square and slightly rotated forward (see photo 2).
  5. Photo 3. © Take The Magic Step
    Photo 3. © Take The Magic Step

    Tilt the pelvis gently forward as much as you can and continue to lengthen the spine, rather than rounding the back, as you reach forward. Please be careful as you are reaching forward to touch your toes (see photo 3). Stay in this position for several breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Next week we will practice an asana I enjoy in conjunction with the Head Beyond the Knee pose: the famous Twist. Until then I wish you joyful yoga sessions.

Namaste!

Yours,

Reading Suggestions:

  1. Yoga for Performancesm: Introduction
  2. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 1
  3. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 2

 

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