How to Do Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose in Yoga (Guide to Janu Sirsasana)

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend is a wonderful asana for improving mobility in the hips and hamstrings.

It’s a restorative pose that allows you to focus on deepening the flexibility in one hamstring at a time. Therefore, it can feel more accessible than a classic seated or standing forward bend that stretches both hamstrings simultaneously.

“There’s something about head–to-knee forward bend pose that invites both energy and relaxation,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “Practice this after a long day spent seated and your body with thank you.”

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Janu Sirsasana
Pose Type: Forward Bend Yoga Poses, Seated Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Lower back, core, glutes, hamstrings, hips, neck
Benefits: This pose strengthens and stretches the muscles in the shoulders, back, and legs. It eases sciatica while increasing flexibility in the lower back and spine.
Preparatory Poses: Staff pose, bound angle pose.

How to Do Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Sit on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee to bring your heel into your midline.
  3. Keep the left leg extended and point your toes up.
  4. Turn your torso to face your left foot and inhale to sit up tall, lengthening the spine.
  5. Fold at your hips to bring your tummy towards your left knee.
  6. Walk your hands forwards towards your left foot.
  7. Slowly bring the entire torso down towards your leg as you bring your head to meet your knee.
  8. Grasp your left ankle or toes with your hands and soften into the pose.

Beginner’s Tip

Although this pose is suitable for beginners, it can be particularly painful if you have tightness in the hamstrings.

To make this pose more comfortable and avoid overstretching your hamstring, place a rolled-up towel or yoga mat beneath your knee to keep a bend.

Place your hands alongside your leg if you find this more comfortable.

You might also like to consider placing a block on the inside of your knee as a place to rest your forehead to make this pose more restorative.

Contraindications

  • This pose is not suitable during pregnancy.
  • Avoid this pose if you have severe lower back pain.
  • If you have an injury in your knee, avoid this pose or elevate the knee with a rolled-up towel.

Variation

Keep your torso aligned with your pelvis – facing forwards – as opposed to turning to face the foot of your extended left leg. From here, bring your left hand to rest on the floor on the inside of your left knee as you bring your side body down towards your leg. Let your right arm rest on your knee or bring it overhead and towards your left foot for a deeper side stretch.

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