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Hatha Yoga Tip

JANU SIRASANA – HEAD TO KNEE POSE – All levels, with variations

Seated on the mat, begin with the right leg stretched out straight in front and the foot flexed with toes up. Bend the left leg with knee onto the mat, so that the sole of the foot is pressed high into the thigh of the stretched out right leg, the heel in to the body. Stretch the arms up above the head with palms together. Inhale and when exhaling fold yourself forward from the base of the spine toward the right leg. Reach for the right foot and clasp your foot with both hands, then bring the head face down on the leg or as far forward as possible. Breathe deeply in position and release slowly. Come up with an inhalation and extend arms overhead, slowly exhale releasing the arms. Then the forward fold bending to the left leg.

Variation 1
Seated with the right leg extended straight in front, place the left foot in half lotus. Fold forward over the right leg. Extend the right arm straight forward and place the palm on the mat next to the outside of the right foot, extending the right arm and hand as far forward of the foot as possible. To further increase the difficulty, place the left arm behind the back. Inhaling, bend forward over the right leg and reach forward with the right hand as before. Repeat bending to the left leg with right leg in half lotus.

Variation 2
With the right leg extended, push the left knee back in line with the left foot. Exhaling, bend to the right leg (right side of the body to the right thigh). Bring the right elbow over the inner right leg to the mat and hold the sole of the right foot with the right hand. The head is side ear down to the leg. Simultaneously bring the left arm and elbow over the head and clasp the top of the right foot. The right elbow can now be used to lever the left arm back. Push out the chest. Come out of the pose and repeat with the left leg outstretched or continue with variation 3 (once variation 2 can be performed without effort).

Variation 3
Continuing from variation 2, release the right hand and move the shoulder out over the right knee to bring the head to the floor. Roll the head back on to the leg, face up, and clasp the sole of the foot with both hands. The chest is now rotated facing more upwards than previously.

The weight of the body over the outstretched leg aids the loosening of the hamstrings.
The bent leg helps give support and stability in the pose.
Because only one leg is stretched out at a time, it is easier to bend the body forward down over the leg and stretch one side at a time.
The abdominal organs benefit immensely from this pose as they are massaged. This powerful effect is increased in Variation 1, with half lotus pose. Variations 2 and 3 have a twisting movement enhancing the massaging effect, helping stimulate and purify the digestive system.

This yoga asana is an edited contribution for the Sivananda Gurugram partly sourced and edited from the Sivananda Publication: “Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion” – Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre – 2010.

Love, humility, forgiveness, patience, compassion, courage, integrity, non-violence and purity are qualities leading to Divinity.  – Sri Swami Sivananda

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Do not hate the evil-hearted, the jealous and the selfish. It is they who promote your salvation. – Sri Swami Sivananda



Pranayama terms, ‘Svasa’ is the inspiratory breath. Inhale. ‘Prasvasa’ is the expiratory breath. Exhale.

Tasmin sati svasa prasvasayor-gativicchedah pranayamah
“Regulation of breath, or the control of Prana, is the stoppage of inhalation and exhalation, which follows after securing that steadiness of posture or seat.”
This is the definition of Pranayama in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali.

Take up the practice of Pranayama after you have gained steadiness in your Asana (seat). If you are able to sit from half to one hour even, you can take up the practice of Pranayama. Make any spiritual progress with the practice of Pranayama.

Atman is the fountain of all bliss. – Sri Swami Sivananda