Revolved Head-to-Knee Basics
Sanskrit: Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (puh-ree-VREET-tuh JAH-nu SHAS-ah-nah)
Pose type: Seated posture
Targets: Full body
Why we love it: “This pose has always been easy and comfortable for me,” says Yoga Journal contributor Cyndi Lee. “In fact, one day when I was physically exhausted, I actually fell asleep folded over my leg. Then three years ago I had both of my hips replaced. I had expected to feel stiff, weak, and tender during my recovery, but I hadn’t known that my flexibility would simply vanish. Sitting on the floor was no longer available. I missed that grounded feeling of extending my legs along the floor and folding over without a hitch. I decided to try sitting up on a bolster in a very narrow position that can only be called a baby straddle. I stacked a block on either side of one thigh and placed my bottom forearm there, lifted the other arm up and bent sideways. And I stayed there, utterly fascinated by the sensation of restricted range of motion in my thighs. I thought about all the people in my classes over the years who have felt this feeling. I have alway tried to gently support them with blocks, blankets and straps as they found a way to move into this position without aggression or frustration. But I never knew how they actually felt. Now these students became my inspiration as I used those same supports in my own practice. It’s three years later and now I can do this pose without props. But I don’t think I will fall asleep there.”
Join Outside+ today to learn more about this—and other—yoga poses, including other expressions of this classic seated posture.
Revolved Head-to-Knee stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, stimulates your abdominal organs, such as the liver and kidneys, and improves overall digestion.
Revolved Head-to-Knee: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Begin in Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend); make sure to be directly on top of your sitting bones with your legs at about a 120-degree angle and your quadriceps squarely facing the ceiling.
- Bend your right knee, and place your heel at your right groin so that your thighs are symmetrical.
- Inhale; lengthen your spine.
- Exhale; twist your torso to the right.
- Maintaining the rotation of your spine, tilt your torso laterally to the left.
- Place your left shoulder to the inside of your left knee while continuing to revolve your torso up toward the ceiling.
- Extend your left hand, palm up, toward your left foot, and clasp your inner foot.
- Reach your right hand to the right, then sweep it past your right ear, palm down.
- Use your right hand to clasp your left outer foot.
- Maintain your left leg as if in Upavistha Konasana, pressing into your left big toe mound and descending your femur.
- Resist your right knee toward the floor to balance the weight of your torso to the left.
- Inhale; lengthen your spine.
- Exhale; twist any amount more to the right, spinning your chest to the ceiling.
- Continue this pattern of breath: inhalations to create space along the torso; exhalations to offer the heart up.
- Hold for anywhere from 10 breaths to 1 minute, then root down with your legs on an exhalation, and inhale to bring your torso up and back to center.
- Repeat on the other side.
It’s better to keep the bottom shoulder in contact with the inner knee, rather than losing the contact in order to straighten the knee completely.
Teaching Revolved Head-to-Knee
These tips will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- This pose makes the hamstrings vulnerable, especially near the sitting bones where the muscles attach. To be safe, remind your students to contract the quadriceps very powerfully, sending a message to the hamstrings to stop contracting. Pulling the body down in any forward bend when the hamstrings have not released enough to free the spine may damage the lower vertebrae.
- This sidebend can be too much of a stretch for some students. If a student’s body isn’t ready to go over that far, recommend that they try one of the variations below.