Following on from our March issue, yogis Sarah Powell of Sarah Powell Yoga and Sarah Barguirdjian of Sarah B Yoga guide us through another yoga move with health benefits.
Janu Sirsasana (Head-To-Knee Pose)
Not only does this pose (janu means “knee” and sirsa means “head”) stretch the entire back, hamstrings and inner thighs, but it’s also said to improve digestion, stimulate the liver and kidneys, and help relieve stress, fatigue and menstrual discomfort.
The full pose (demonstrated by Sarah P on the right) demands a lot of flexibility in the back of the legs, hips and back. However, a modified version of the pose can be done using a strap (as shown by Sarah B on the left).
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Tip: It’s a great idea to have a folded blanket or towel under your bum to raise you up and help tip your pelvis forward as you come into the forward fold.
Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your foot to your left upper, inner thigh. Let your left knee drop down towards the floor. You can place a towel or blanket under that knee to support your leg if you want. If you’re more flexible, push your right knee back slightly, separating your knees even further from each other.
Keeping your spine long, and your knee and toes pointing up, exhale as you lean forward over your left leg (a slight torso twist) and reach for your foot. If your foot is too far away to catch with your hands, bend your knee to loop a strap or belt around the sole of the foot (as shown by Sarah B on the left), then re-straighten; be sure not to pull yourself forward when using the strap!
Whether you’re using a belt or not, inhale deeply and raise your chest up and away from your leg, and lengthen your spine. As you slowly exhale, bend from your hips (not your waist) and reach your chest forward towards your foot without rounding your back. Repeat this lengthening and extending three or four times, deepening the fold each time after taking a breath. Be sure to keep your core firm to protect the lower back.
Come up slowly and repeat on the other side.
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