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Head-to-the-Knee Pose

"Left and right and all around—life's harmonies are mine."

Jaa-nu-shir-aa-sa-na Janu = knee; Sirsha = head


From dandasana, bend your right knee and slide your right heel into the groin area. Then rotate from the right hip to release the knee to the floor on the right. Bring the sole of your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Sit squarely on both sitbones.

Inhale and bring your hands up the front of your body, stretching tall from your sacrum up overhead through your fingertips. On the exhalation, bend forward from your hips and extend your torso out over your left leg. Keep your spine straight and bring your hands down to rest on your left leg or foot or the floor, wherever they reach easily. Your sternum (breastbone) should be directly over your left leg.

Continue in this position, inhaling and lengthening, exhaling and deepening the forward bend. Keep your spine straight and the back of your neck long. Reach the crown of your head away from the tailbone, and your navel toward your left thigh. Keep your shoulders relaxed down away from your ears and level with each other. After a number of breaths, inhale and lengthen one last time, then exhale and release completely into the "surrender" phase of the pose, allowing your entire upper body to relax.

Breathe smoothly and naturally as you hold the pose and affirm mentally, "Left and right and all around life's harmonies are mine." Go farther into the forward bend only through relaxation, not through effort.

To exit, on an inhalation, use your abdominal and lower back muscles (and arms, if necessary) to recapture the spine's natural curves, then lift your hands until they are straight overhead, drawing your torso to vertical. Exhale and circle your hands down to your sides. Bend your left knee, then rotate your left hip out to the side and come into a comfortable cross-legged sitting position.

Pause to integrate the effects of the pose, then repeat to the other side.