Janu Sirsasana HeadtOKnee Pose

The next asana, janu sirsasana, or "Head-to-Knee Pose," also helps to stretch out the spine and the backs of the legs while giving an added stretch to the groin and hip area. It can be helpful to practice janu sirsasana once the body has been warmed and stretched by Seated Forward Bend Pose.

Remain in a seated position on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you, as you did above in preparation for Seated Fig. YPS.7: Head-to-Knee Pose

Forward Bend Pose. Bend your right leg and place the heel of your right foot as close to the genital area as you can. The sole of your right foot rests against your left inner thigh, or however high you are able to place it against your left leg. Your right knee is as close to the ground as possible. Your right lower leg forms a right angle to your left leg. If your right knee does not touch the floor, you can support it by placing a pillow, folded towel, or blanket under it.

Place your hands on your left thigh and use your hands to help rotate your torso around to your left so that the midline of your torso is placed as directly above the midline of the left thigh as possible. The foot of your left leg is flexed and the midline of your left thigh is facing directly toward the ceiling.

On an inhalation, raise your arms up over your head. Your inner arms are parallel to your head and in line with the ears. On an exhalation, fold forward from the hips as you position your upper body directly over the midline of your left thigh. Try to position your torso parallel over your thigh. With your hands, grasp the heel, sole, toes, or ball of your left foot, or your left ankle, shin, knee, or thigh—wherever you are able to reach comfortably. (See Fig. YPS.7.) Try not to round your torso forward. Rather, fold from the hip creases and let your back remain as straight and extended as possible. To help support you in this pose, you may want to try wrapping a belt, strap, or towel around your left foot and hold it with both hands.

Hold this position for several breaths. Feel the entire back of your spine lengthening and your right hip area opening. To increase the stretch in your right hip, you might experiment with pressing down on your right thigh with your right hand. Apply gentle, but firm, pressure above the knee. Avoid pressing directly on the knee itself. Do not add this refinement if you have any knee or hip concerns, or if the variation is uncomfortable in any way. Feel your entire hip and groin area opening, releasing, and widening as you hold this position.

When you are ready to come out of the position, inhale as you raise your torso up from your thigh, initiating your movements with the head and upper chest. Allow your arms and hands to come gently back to your sides. Release your right leg, extending it forward in front of you. Wiggle it from side to side and allow it to come back in line with your straight, extended left leg.

Repeat Head-to-Knee Pose on the opposite side of your body.

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