The Head to Knee with Stretching Pose in the Bikram How Yoga Series comes between Rabbit Pose and Spine Twist. It is called Janushirsasana Paschimotthanasana in Sanskrit and breaks down as follows: Janu stands for "knee", the word Shirsha means "head" and Asana has the definition of "posture" or "seat". The name Paschima means "west" or "back of the body", Uttana is defined as "straight", "extended" or "intense stretch" and as before Asana means "posture" or "seat".
It is a three part stretching pose in the floor series that is also a compression posture as well towards the end of the Bikram Series. It is a forwarding fold pose where you grab your right foot, then left foot and finally both feet. The Head to Knee with Stretching Pose is also the only posture that contains a sit up in the middle of a set of the pose. We will break down the pose and take a deeper look at Head to Knee with Stretching Pose.
The Head to Knee with Stretching Pose is part of the floor series in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series. You start the posture sitting on the floor and facing the front of the room. The right foot and the right leg are facing the right corner of the room. Bring the left foot to the right thigh with the heel placed on the thigh. Turn to the right and square torso with your right leg and right foot.
Flex your right foot back towards your face and feel a stretch along the back of your right leg. Interlace your fingers and have the chin tucked in and round forward. Your chin should touch the chest with the throat choked. You need to grab your right foot just below your toes. Bring the forehead to knee as you round forward even if you need to bend the knee. Overtime you can start to straighten out the right leg but you need to get the forehead to knee first.
Keep the spine rounded with the shoulders rolling down your back while the forehead is on your knee. The stomach should be pulled in for the duration of the posture. Press your left elbow down and left shoulder down to bring the left side of the body square with the right. Straighten out your wrists and straighten out your arms and keep the chin to the throat. Keep flexing the right foot back towards you and begin to pull and notice the stretching sensation.
So not worry if your leg is not straight it will straighten over time. When the leg starts to straighten out start bringing the elbows down towards the floor and start lifting the right heel off of the floor. The spine should be rounded from your tailbone to the top of your neck. You need to do this for ten seconds and then do the same thing on the left side.
When you are done doing your left leg stretch quickly lay on your back with the top of your head facing the back wall. Bring your arms over your head and do a sit up. When you do your sit up you should flex your feet back and do a double exhale. As you are doing this you need to grab the big toes like hooks and walk your hips back. You are using the middle and index fingers to get the grip on the toes. Walk the hips back several times toward the back wall to straighten out your legs. Keep the stomach pulled in and keep the chin and chest lifted for the whole pose.
Pull the upper body forward and keep the spine straight as you can. It is okay to bend the knees if you can not bring the back of your legs on the floor but you must get your spine straight. If your legs are straight start to contract the top of your thighs and start bringing your elbows towards the floor. Eventually when the legs are straight extend the thumbs upwards and try to touch them with your forehead. For those who want to go even further try and touch your forehead to your toes. Do this pose for ten seconds and go to your Savasana.
The Head to Knee with Stretching Pose is a three part posture that is towards the end of the Bikram Hot Yoga Series. I would say the most important thing to remember is to work on the spine more in this pose and let the legs straighten out over time. We are not forcing the legs onto the floor and getting that uncomfortable stretching sensation when we stretch the back of the thighs too much.
We also need to remember that this pose is also a compression posture when we bring our forehead to knee with the throat choked. You do two sets of each part of the posture for ten seconds each. Once again do not force anything with the legs and work on your spine more. The other main thing is to keep the chin tucked to the chest with the throat choked when needed.