Janu Sirsasana, also known as Head-to-Knee Forward Bend or Willow Pose. It is a seated forward bend considered a restorative pose because of its soothing effect. This pose reduces stress, tension, regenerates the entire body. It also allows you to prepare for the Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) because it is much easier to stretch one leg than both at once.
Janu Sirsasana comes from Sanskrit roots and means: “janu” – knee, “sirsa” – head, and “asana” – pose.
So let’s see how to do it, its benefits, and precautions.
Janu Sirsasana Steps
How to do Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (step-by-step)
- Step 1
Sit on the floor and stretch your legs forward.
- Step 2
Bend the right leg at the knee and press the foot to the inside of the left thigh. Keep the right knee firmly on the ground, and try not to lift it.
- Step 3
Inhale and stretch your arms above your head, stretch them from the shoulders, with the palms facing each other. At the same time, lengthen and stretch the whole torso from the hips.
- Step 4
Exhale and lean the torso from the hips forward, toward your left leg, keeping the lower part of the spine as straight and long as possible. Remember to keep your back straight.
- Step 5
Stretch your arms forward towards the left foot, and try to grab the toes. Focus on keeping the whole left leg on the ground.
- Step 6
Stay in this position for at least 5 deep breaths or at least as long as you feel comfortable. Breathe deep and slow, and try to mentally relax the stretched parts.
- Step 7
To come out of the pose, inhale and slowly lift your head, then your torso, and get back in the sitting position. Remember to repeat this on the other side.
If you cannot reach the foot of the outstretched leg to which you are bending, stretch your arms as far as you can along the leg and hold on to the knee, lower leg, or ankle.
Gradually, with regular practice, you will accelerate and deepen the stretching of each part of the body separately. Buttocks, back, ribs, spine, armpits, elbows, and arms, and thus enable the gripping of the feet of the outstretched leg as described above.
Also, if you are unable to grab your foot, you can use a belt or a yoga strap.
Advanced variation: When you start feeling comfortable in this pose and you want to challenge yourself. Try to bend a little harder and catch the left wrist with the right palm in front of the foot. As your stretch deepens, this will become easier and easier.
Benefits of Pavanamuktasana
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend has numerous benefits for our physical and mental health.
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, knee tendons, and groin
- Slowly open your hips, the inner thighs, as well as the back
- Reduces stiffness in the shoulders, hips, elbows, and small knuckles
- Reduces stiffness and tension in the leg muscles
- Strengthens leg muscles and reduces their stiffness
- Stimulates and strengthens the liver, spleen, and kidneys
- Improves and increases the flexibility
- Improves digestion
- Removes toxins
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Strengthens back muscles during pregnancy (up to the second trimester)
- Above all, keeping your head in a lowered position helps with blood circulation and clears the air passages, which ensures easier breathing
- It has a calming effect on the mind
- Alleviates the symptoms of mild depression
- Alleviates the symptoms of menopause
- Removes anxiety, fatigue, headache, and insomnia
Contraditions, Warnings and Precautions
- You Should avoid this posture if you have:
- Spine injury
- Knee or shoulder injury
- Lower back pain (or any back pain)
Regular practice of the Head-to-Knee Forward Bend affects the sixth chakra, also known as the Ajna chakra or Third eye chakra. This chakra is related to intuition, and when it is well-balanced you will feel more confident and connected.
You should have a soothing feeling after performing Janu Sirsasana. There are also many physical and mental benefits experienced with this pose, including reducing stiffness, strengthening muscles, helping to relieve mild depression and anxiety.
There are a few people who should not do this pose, but foremost is anyone with a knee or back injury.
This pose is not a difficult yoga pose, but do not be disappointed if you cannot do it right away. We all have different bodies and varying degrees of flexibility. Some people will need more time and some less to be able to do this pose perfectly. So do not compare to anyone, but watch your progress, and with regular practice, I guarantee you will do it. As your flexibility will increase, so will the benefits that this yoga pose will bring you.
So experiment and have fun!