Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Fold) opens your hamstrings, strengthens and stretches the low back, and combines a nice twist.

Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Head to Knee Forward Fold (Janu Sirsasana)

Difficulty level: Easy

Benefits

  • Stretches the waist, spine, sidebody, low back and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the low back

Begin in Dandasana.  Inhale, bend your right knee and place the sole of the right foot into the left thigh with the knife edge of the right foot flat on the floor.

Place a strap around the arch of your left foot, holding the strap ends in both hands like horses’ reigns.  Stretch through the heel of your left foot as you press the length of the back of the left leg down into the floor.  Keep a micro bend in the left knee and the left heel on the ground to avoid hyper extending the left knee.  Ground down through the sit bones as you lift the spine and press up through the crown of your head.

As you lift through the spine and ground through the sit bones you will notice a curve in your low back.  You may find that you are enjoying enough of a stretch simply holding this position.  If so, hold this position and breathe for several breaths before releasing the pose.

If you are ready for a deeper stretch, gently twist to your left so that your chest is over your left thigh.  On an exhale, bend your elbows.  Press from the groins with a flat back, drawing your chest towards towards your thigh.  Keep your gaze and chest lifted slightly so that your back stays as flat as possible.

If  you are able to, release the strap and grasp your foot with both hands.  Inhale, lifting the chest slightly and flattening the back, then exhale and fold forward completely.  Hold this for a few breaths, then inhale and slowly walk your hands up your thigh lifting your torso.  Switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Variations:

If you have pain in your bent knee, lessen the bend in the knee and/or prop your thigh with a rolled up blanket or block.

To find more freedom in the upper body, place a folded blanket or block under the sit bones prior to entering into Dandasana.

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