Definition - What does Head-to-Knee Pose mean?
Head-to-knee pose is an asymmetrical seated forward bend. Several variations of this pose are included in the primary series of Ashtanga yoga. It is a powerful stretch for the hamstrings and the back of the body.
In this pose, the practitioner sits with one leg fully extended, while the other leg is bent so the foot rests on the inner thigh of the extended leg. The body folds forward so that the head rests on the knee. There are a number of different variations of this pose that involve slightly different positioning of the bent leg.
For a modification, the extended leg can be cushioned with a blanket underneath the knee to bend it slightly. Those with limited flexibility can also use a strap to reach the foot instead.
The Sanskrit name for head-to-knee pose is janu sirsasana.
Yogapedia explains Head-to-Knee Pose
There are three main variations of head-to-knee pose. Head-to-knee pose A is the variation in which the foot of the bent leg rests toward the top of the extended inner thigh. In head-to-knee pose B, the foot is tucked underneath the body so that the heel is near the perineum. This variation stimulates the pelvic floor area. The most advanced variation is head-to-knee pose C, in which the foot is placed against the extended leg in such a way that the toes are pointed down and tucked under.
All variations of head-to-knee pose are forward bends, hence they stretch the back of the body, offering a release to the hamstrings of the extended leg. They also stretch the shoulders and groin.
The way that the body folds forward in this posture is thought to stimulate the kidneys and the liver, as well as improve digestion. It is said that this posture can also help relieve symptoms for those experiencing menopause.