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Poses by Anatomy

4 Steps to Master Head-to-Knee Pose

Yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala shares his instructions to achieve Janu Sirsasana. Plus, reap the benefits and avoid these mistakes.

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NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA Modify Janu Sirsasana to find safe alignment



A restorative pose that reenergizes the body and aids digestion by stretching the ascending and descending colon


1. Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs extended in front of you, toes flexed, quadriceps contracted. Place your hands next to your buttocks on the floor and lift the bottom of your belly and the sides of your waist.

2. Bend your right knee, placing your right foot against your inner left thigh and your right heel close to your perineum, just below your pubic bone. Gently swing the right knee away from the left foot so that the thighs form an angle greater than 90 degrees—preferably an angle of 135 degrees.

See also 4 Prep Poses for Bird of Paradise

3. Fold forward over your left leg from the left hip crease. Reach with your right arm first and hold your left foot from the inside. Contracting your left quadriceps powerfully, use your left hand to grasp the center of the hamstring muscles and—tipping the body to the right—pull toward your left sitting bone to release tension in the tendon that connects your hamstring muscles to your pelvis. Then press your left hand into the floor near your left hip and push, lengthening the left waist. Keep twisting your body toward the left, working to bring your bellybutton over the center of your left thigh.

4. Hold your left foot with your left hand from the outside. Move deeper into the fold by holding your right wrist with your left hand. Make a fist with your right hand. Bending your elbows away from each other, pull your left foot with your arms, lengthening the sides of your waist. Rest your forehead on your shin. Breathe deeply for 9 or more breaths. Inhaling, lift your head and chest, then release your hands to push the floor away and come out of the pose. Change sides.

See also Standing Forward Bend

Avoid This Mistake


DON’T drop your sacrum backward (posteriorly) and round the spine.

Teacher Aadil Palkhivala ( is co-founder of Purna Yoga in the West, and trained one-on-one with B.K.S. Iyengar. A teacher’s teacher, Palkhivala has practiced yoga since 1966; he was a naturopath for 10 years and has degrees in law, physics, and mathematics.

Model Valerie D’Ambrosio ( is a life coach, interdisciplinary yoga teacher, and co-founder of the Hanuman Festival in Boulder, Colorado.

See also 4 Steps to Master Dolphin Pose