Head-to-knee pose, aka Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana, is the next-to-last posture in the Bikram sequence. Which makes it easy to check out during, especially if you’re new to the practice and all you can think about is getting to the final sivasana.
There are only 26 postures in Bikram yoga, however, and each one is important and part of the sequence for a reason. Head to Knee has many specific benefits. It is good for digestion, immune system and thyroid, as well as boosting liver and pancreas function. Remember: it is a compression posture, like separate leg head to knee. It has the added benefit of being seated so you don’t have to worry about balance and can concentrate on perfecting the posture. It also provides a fantastic secondary stretch for your back and legs – especially the Achilles tendon and hamstrings.
Here are five tips for getting the most from head to knee pose:
- Hold in your stomach: Think compression, compression, compression, of your internal organs. The tighter you pull in your abs the more space you create to round down and touch your forehead to your knee.
- Bend your knee only if necessary: The goal in the posture is to get your knee locked and thigh contracted so the back of your knee is flush with the floor. If that is not available maintain the correct alignment over your leg, hold in your belly, and bend your knee as much as you need to get a solid forehead to knee connection.
- Grip!: The grip is critical in this posture – full, 10-finger grip, two inches below your toes. Keeping a firm grip allows you to stretch your arms, back and legs, while holding the strong compression.
- Keep your bum on the floor: It is easy to rock to one side or another in this posture, but then you lose the alignment. Once you’ve got the grip and forehead to knee, check in with your sit-bones and be sure your weight is even on the floor.
- Flex your toes: Just as in standing head to knee, your aim is to flex your foot back towards your face, giving a good stretch to your Achilles tendon and hamstring. This can be challenging but it’s easier if you contract your thigh, which allows your hamstring to relax and stretch safely.
Questions about head to knee posture? Ask in the comments!