Head-to-Knee Pose

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Head-to-Knee Pose Mean?

Head-to-knee pose is the name for a three-part series of asymmetrical seated forward folds. These variations are included in the primary series of Ashtanga yoga. It is a powerful stretch for the hamstrings and the back of the body.

The intention of the pose is to fold the body so that the head moves closer to the knee. In the full expression of the posture, though, once the hamstrings and back of the body are open enough, the head will actually move beyond the knee and to the shin.

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.

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