Over the next couple of months, I will be posting a series of yoga poses that are suitable for all levels. This will be an easy and safe way to begin a home practice and for those of you new to Yoga it could help you get a feel for the different asana(posture) groups and their benefits.
As it’s the time of year where we ‘wind down’ internally and get ready for the stillness of winter, today’s asana is a deeply calming and quietening forward bend which I recommend practising at the end of the day so that your body has had enough movement and is warmed up for this stretch. The practice of Yoga involves working without force, with patience and by following your breathing rhythm. In this regard, if you have any disc injury or lumbar spine trauma, any chronic knee pain or inflammation, then practice with extra caution and awareness focusing more on the stretch in your hamstrings and hips rather than your back. You can also support one or both knees with cushions placed underneath the knee.
Janu Sirsasana – Head to Knee Forward Bend
Come to sit on the floor on a 2-3 inch folded blanket (under pelvis) and with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee, dropping the knee towards the floor and place your right foot into the inner line of your left leg. As you inhale raise your arms overhead to bring length to your spine and on the exhale fold over your left leg holding that leg wherever it feels comfortable to do so. Make sure your navel lies right over your stretched leg, this will ensure you are also getting the benefit of the spinal twist in this pose.
Follow your breathing and watch how your body unfolds and releases into the pose. You can hold this pose for 30secs – 1 minute and then repeat on the other side. Once you have done both sides, lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor for an additional minute.
‘Head to Knee Forward Bend’ Janu Sirsasana
Benefits of Janu Sirsasana
- Calming and quietening for the brain and the nervous system
- Stretches the chain of muscles from plantar fascia in feet to spinal erectors, multifidi and latissimi dorsi in the upper back
- Stimulates liver and kidneys
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, insomnia, fatigue
- Relieves symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.