The head-to-knee posture keeps your spine supple, stimulates the abdominal organs, and stretches your back, especially on the side of the extended leg. It also activates the central channel (sushumna-nadi). As we explain in Chapter 5, the central channel is the pathway for the awakened energy of pure consciousness (called kundalini-shakti), which leads to ecstasy and spiritual liberation.
Follow these steps to achieve this posture:
1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and then bend your left knee and bring your left heel toward your right groin.
2. Rest your bent left knee on the floor (but don't force it down) and place the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right thigh.
The toes of the left foot point toward the right knee.
3. Bring your back up nice and tall; as you inhale, raise your arms forward and up overhead until they're beside your ears as Figure 11-11a shows.
Keep your arms and the right leg soft and slightly bent in Forgiving Limbs, which we describe in Chapter 3.
4. As you exhale, bend forward from the hips, bringing your hands, chest and head toward your right leg.
Rest your hands on the floor or your thigh, knee, shin, or foot. If your head isn't close to your right knee, bend your knee more until you feel your back stretching on the right side (see Figure 11-11b).
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 three times and then stay in Step 4 (the final forward bend) for 6 to 8 breaths.
6. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 on the opposite side.
Keep your back muscles as relaxed as possible.
The Sanskrit word janu (pronounced jah-noo) means "knee," and shirsha (pronounced sheer-shah) means "head."
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