Standing Head to Knee ("Dandayamana Janushirasana")
This is one of the more difficult and complex poses in the Bikram series, combining balance, strength and flexibility. This pose requires the balance to stand on one leg for one minute, the strength to hold the other leg up and the flexibility to touch your forehead to you knee. There are four main positions on each the right and left side to the pose:
Position 1: Stand and balance on left leg. Lock the knee. Pick up the right foot with both hands, ten fingers interlaced. Hold the ball of the foot and pull the toes towards the face, keeping the right foot extremely flexed. The right leg should look like an upside-down L shape, with the thigh parallel to the floor and the shin perpendicular. The upper body is in a strong forward bend, so engage the abs to protect the lower back. Notice how heavy your foot feels in your interlaced hands. Your core, or more accurately, your stomach muscles, hip flexors, and lower back muscles, are responsible for holding your leg lifted. The more these muscles work to hold your leg up, the lighter your foot will feel in your hands.
Position 2: If the standing leg is straight and locked with no bending, time to move on! Lift the upper body and kick the right leg forward. Keep the right leg straight and parallel to the floor. When the muscles on the front side of your body are being contracted, they send signals to the muscles on the back side of your body to stretch. The goal is to have both legs straight and both arms straight, with a lengthened spine and relaxed shoulders.
Position 3: When both legs are straight, bend the elbows down towards the floor and start to round the spine. To maintain the balance and strength, keep pulling the toes back and pushing the heel forwards. Continue to round the spine. Continue to pull the elbows below the calf muscle and hug them in towards the core at the same time. Standing on one leg and simultaneously kicking out requires many different muscles coordinating and working together, including muscles in the arch of your foot and your hip-stabilizer. This is why Standing Head to Knee is so difficult to master and so important. The muscles that you develop when you are working on your pose are the muscles that you use every day- to hold yourself stable as you walk, hike, climb stairs, play sports, etc.
Position 4: If both legs are still absolutely straight and the elbows are below the calf muscle, you can touch the forehead to the knee. Look down and keep your focus on one point on the floor. Tuck your chin to chest and bring your forehead to the right knee. Continue to round the spine and lift the core to slide the forehead higher up on the left knee. Now relax. Repeat these four positions on the left side.
Standing Head to Knee pose is certainly a thorn in the side of many practitioners, but full body benefits come with practice. Even if you cannot achieve each position in the pose, as long as your leg is locked, you are still obtaining maximum benefits. With all the dependence on the core, the abdominal muscles, hips and legs, strengthen and firm. Hamstring and sciatic nerve flexibility increases. Even the arms and shoulders strengthen and tone from pulling. The benefits extend beyond just the physical too; balance, concentration, patience and determination improve. Standing Head to Knee is a full body and mind exercise.
This content was submitted by a member of the community. We'd like to hear from you, too! To share stories, photos, video or events for our calendar, please email Community News Manager Michael Cronin at email@example.com or use the online submission tool.