how to do head to knee pose mercy health
Healthy Living

Yoga for Beginners: How to Do Head to Knee Pose

Nov 1 2017

Restore and energize your body with a deep stretch in this forward bend.

A calm mind, less stress, and better flexibility. If any of these appeal to you, you may want to try head to knee pose, also called head of knee pose and Janu Sirsasana.

Head to knee pose is usually practiced at the end of a yoga sequence, when the body is already warm. While this posture is a deep forward bend, don’t let its name mislead you. Touching your head to your knee is not the most important aspect. Instead, focus on the length of your spine, bringing a deep stretch to your back and hamstrings.

Here’s how to do head to knee pose:

  1. Begin sitting in staff pose with your legs extended long. Move your hands behind your hips and press your palms flat into your mat.
  2. Next, as you take a deep inhale, lengthen your spin and pull your right knee toward your body. Lower your right leg down, so the outside of your leg rests flat on the floor.
  3. Finally, breathe in and reach your fingertips to the sky. Hinging from your hips, begin to lower your upper body toward your extended leg. Use your fingertips to reach for your toes.

While the goal is to reach your fingertips as long as possible, it’s okay if your fingers don’t reach past your leg. Avoid rounding your spine, which can cause injury.

The benefits of head to knee pose are vast. In addition to stretching your hamstrings, groin and spine, this mild spinal twist also calms your mind. Head to knee pose is known for relieving anxiety, fatigue, and mild depression. It can even help with digestive issues — as it stimulates and massages the liver and kidneys.

If you need a modification for Janu Sirsasana, try placing a yoga block underneath your lowered leg. As always, listen to your body and reach out to your doctor if you have any questions or are experiencing negative pain.

Want to see head to knee pose in action? Watch this short video featuring one of Mercy Health’s certified advanced yoga instructors, Mary Geibel. If you’re ready to add in other postures, visit a Mercy Healthplex, or view our videos on Downward-Facing Dog or Wide-Legged Forward Bend.


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