Head-to-Knee Pose - Janu Sirsasana

A Seated Stretch for Your Hamstrings

How to Do Janu Sirsasana
Janu Sirsasana. © Barry Stone

Type of Pose: Forward bend

Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, hips, and groins

The hamstrings are tights areas for a lot of people, so it's important to find ways of stretching them that aren't too unpleasant so you'll do them regularly. Janu sirsasana fits that bill. If you dread the idea of a seated forward bend with both legs straight, this pose will come as a pleasant surprise. Taking your stretch one leg at a time allows you to go a lot deeper and feels so much better.

Just make sure that you're keeping your forward fold centered over your extended leg for the best results. If you want to take your torso between your open legs that fine too, but it's a different pose known as upavistha konasana.


1. Begin sitting in staff pose - dandasana with both legs outstretched in front of you. Remove the flesh from under your seat so that your sit bones are firmly anchored. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot to your right inner thigh.

2. Square your torso over your extended right leg. Begin to bring your torso down to your leg by tipping your pelvis forward so that the forward bend initiates from your hips instead of your lower back.

3. Keep your right foot flexed while pressing the back of the right thigh down toward the floor.

4. In order to not collapse your back, keep your heart center lifted as long as possible as you come forward.

Aim your chest at your thigh instead of your forehead at your knee.

5 When you reach your maximum forward bending limit, you have a choice. You can maintain your straight spine and long neck in an active position or you can relax your heart and head down toward the extended leg, allowing the spine to round.

Do whichever one feels better.

6. If your hands reach your foot, hold your foot. If not, you may hold on to your ankle or calf or place your hands on the floor wherever they reach.

7. On each inhale, extend the spine long, and on each exhale, deepen the forward bend.

8. Stay five to ten breaths and then straighten both legs, shake them out, and repeat the pose on the other side.

Beginners' Tips:

1. You may sit up on a blanket if your hips are tight.

2. If you like, place a strap around the extended foot. Hold an end of the strap in each hand as you forward bend.

Advanced Tips:

1. Clasp your hands under the sole of the extended foot. You can criss-cross your wrists if you have enough range.

2. Try the pose with the bent leg in a half-lotus position, with the top of your foot resting on the opposite thigh. 

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