Janu Sirsasana

Definition - What does Janu Sirsasana mean?

Janu sirsasana is the name of an asana which involves an asymmetrical seated forward bend. The name is Sanskrit and comes from the root words janu, meaning “knee”, and sirsa, meaning “head,” and asana, meaning "pose." This is because the intention in 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.

There are a number of variations of janu sirsasana involving slightly different positioning of the bent leg in relation to the body. All three of the variations, A, B and C, are included in the primary series of Ashtanga yoga.

The Western name for janu sirsasana is head-to-knee pose.

Yogapedia explains Janu Sirsasana

The three main variations of janu sirsasana are as follows:

  1. Janu sirsasana A: This is the simplest version and is the version usually taught first. The bent leg is folded in with the sole of the foot resting toward the top of the inner thigh.
  2. Janu sirsasana B: This version is similar in the position of the bent leg to A, except that the foot is tucked underneath the body so that the heel is in the area of the perineum. Thus, it is the variation which most actively stimulates the muladhara ("root chakra") and reminds the practitioner to engage the mula bandha.
  3. Janu sirsasana C: In this variation, the sole of the foot of the bent leg is placed against the inner thigh of the straight leg, pointing down with the toes tucked under and grounded on the floor. Many find this a more challenging version, due to the position of the thigh, and it is usually practiced after A or B as the body opens up.

All variations of janu sirsasana are forward bends and, hence, are considered to have a calming effect on the body and mind. They can be used to help students connect with themselves. Due to the introspective nature of the posture, janu sirsasana can be a good place to practice svadyaha, or "self-study," helping to experience more awareness and connection with the inner Self.

Janu sirsasana is said to help to activate and balance the muladhar, as it can release any tension held in the legs or lower abdomen. It is also associated with stimulating the bladder meridian in Chinese medicine, which helps one to manage change in life.

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