Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, (PAHR-ee-VREE-tah JAH-noo sheer-SHAH-suh-nuh)
parivrtta (revolved) + janu (knee) + sirsa (head) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Janu Sirsasana
A deep side body and hamstring stretch paired with a wonderful heart opener
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose Fundamentals
Center yourself in this seemingly passive, yet surprisingly intense and energetic pose. Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose fits into many categories. It could be seen as a seated pose, a side bend, a twist, and a hip opener. Although complex, being done in a seated position, it is accessible to most students.
Still, you should approach the pose with awareness and focus, to ensure you make the most of it. You will particularly find it useful if you are sitting for long periods of time, as it will counteract the main effects of prolonged sitting. It does so by releasing tension from the hips, low back, and shoulders.
The intense side stretch opens the muscles of the rib cage, encouraging a deeper breath. Although this position on its own may help improve your breathing, you can further enhance this benefit by using the breath to guide you. Try elongating and lifting your torso as you inhale, and bend further with your exhalation.
The combination of movements in this pose makes it both energetic and relaxing. All twists help detoxify the body and allow energy to freely flow, which helps fight fatigue and decrease the feelings of stress and anxiety. Releasing tension and opening the body also brings a sense of calm and brings a positive change in your mood.
Although this pose is accessible to most practitioners, you will still gain the greatest benefits if you do it later in the class, when your muscles are already warm.
By preparing your body, you will be able to go deeper in the pose, and the sense of relief it gives you will help prepare you for your closing sequence, Shavasana, and meditation.
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose & The Chakra System
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose opens the whole energetic body, but it mainly stimulates the Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakras.
That makes it a suitable option when the intention of your yoga practice is working on your emotions and self-confidence, and when you want to enhance your creativity and willpower.
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose Benefits
- Lengthens your entire body, including the side ribs, spines, hamstrings, shoulders, neck, and glutes.
- Strengthens the muscles in the torso, particularly the abdomen, upper back, and the side waist.
- Opens the shoulders, knees, and hips, increasing the range of motion in these joints.
- By gently opening the chest, the pose may help you become more aware of your breath and enhance lung function.
- Counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and helps improve your posture with consistent practice.
- Stimulates the internal organs in the abdomen and the thyroid gland, so it may help boost their function.
How To Do Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Begin sitting in Dandasana or Staff pose, with your legs extended in front of you. Sit in the center of your mat, facing its wider edge.
2. Open the right leg to the side as you would for Straddle Pose. Bend your left knee and open it to the side, and bring the left foot towards the groin.
3. With an inhale, ground your sitting bones and extend your spine, and with an exhalation slightly twist your body to the left.
4. Maintaining a long spine and the twist, begin bending to the right side. Keep your chest open, and move your right shoulder towards the right knee.
5. If it is accessible to you, you can place the right elbow on the floor and grab the right big toe. Then, raise the left arm overhead and reach towards the right foot.
6. Grab your right foot with your left hand if you’re able to do so without compromising your alignment.
7. Keep both legs engaged and press them into the floor.
8. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
9. Take a moment in Staff Pose to bring your body back to neutral before you repeat the same steps on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- Sit on a cushion or a blanket to find more length in your lower back and spine.
- If you can’t touch the floor with your elbow, put your hand on the floor or use a block for support. Another option would be to slightly bend the knee of the extended leg.
- Engage the quadriceps on the extended leg to protect the hamstring and the lower back.
- In most seated yoga positions, we aim to keep both hips evenly on the mat. However, in this pose, you can allow the sitting bone of the bent leg to slightly lift off the mat. Depending on your flexibility, it may even be a better option, as it allows you to move your spine and pelvis in unison.
- Focus on keeping your torso and neck long rather than forcing yourself to hold your foot with your hand.
- Always untwist your body and place it in a neutral position before you raise up from the pose.
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose Variation:
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose Variation: Beginner Variation
This is the best variation to perform when you’re only beginning to learn this pose.
All the steps are the same as in the full expression of the pose, the only difference being you are not focusing on grabbing the foot or placing the elbow on the floor. Instead, focus on extending the spine and leaning it to the side, and play around with different positions of your arms to find what feels best for you. In this manner, you will slowly learn how to enter the pose without slouching, and will still enjoy the main benefits it offers.
Revolved Head-To-Knee Pose Variation: Modifications With Props
There are multiple ways in which you can use props to make this pose more accessible.
If you are able to keep your spine long when bending to the side but aren’t able to touch the floor with your elbow, you can use a block for support. Try placing the block in front, on the top, or behind the extended leg to see what works best for you. Placing your elbow higher like this will make it easier to keep your chest open and your spine long.
If you aren’t able to reach your foot without slouching your back, you can use a strap. Loop the strap around the sole of the foot on your extended leg, and hold it with one or both hands.
Sit on a block, cushion, or folded blanket if you have tight hamstrings. In this manner, you will protect your hamstrings and ensure your lower back is in proper alignment. Sitting on an elevated surface will make it easier not to tuck your pelvis under.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Rotating the Neck Too Much. Keep your neck in line with your torso, instead of twisting it further. Still, make sure your neck is active and don’t drop your head.
Sitting up while in your twist. Always unwind your body from the twist before you straighten back up when you’re releasing the pose.
Injuries and Surgery
Avoid the pose or practice slowly and only under the supervision of a teacher if you had any injury in the hips, neck, spine, back, knees, shoulders, or abdomen. Completely refrain from the pose if you had recent surgery in the abdomen, shoulders, or neck. Also avoid the pose if you suffer from any condition that makes this pose painful, such as severe digestive or breathing issues, or weakness in the body – particularly if it’s related to the joints.
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