Janu Sirsasana B is also known as Head-to-Knee Pose B. This forward-bending pose is found in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series seated sequence.  Janu Sirsasana B offers numerous physical and mental benefits, including increased flexibility, improved digestion, and a sense of calmness. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you master Janu Sirsasana B and integrate it into your Ashtanga Yoga routine.

Benefits of Janu Sirsasana B:

Improved Flexibility:

Janu Sirsasana B primarily targets the hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back, gradually increasing flexibility in these areas over time.

Stress Relief:

The forward fold encourages relaxation and can help reduce stress and anxiety. The breath-focused practice during the pose promotes a sense of calmness.

Digestive Health:

The gentle compression of the abdomen in the forward fold stimulates digestion and can alleviate digestive issues.

Strengthened Back:

While the pose involves a forward fold, it also engages the muscles of the back and core, contributing to a stronger and more stable spine.

Stretch for the Groin:

The position of the bent leg stretches the inner thigh muscles (adductors) and can help alleviate tension in the groin area.

Improved Blood Circulation:

As you fold forward, blood flow is redirected towards the head, which can have a positive impact on circulation and provide a rejuvenating effect.

Mind-Body Connection:

Practicing Janu Sirsasana B encourages mindfulness and concentration as you focus on your breath and body alignment, fostering a deeper mind-body connection.

Energizing:

Though the pose is calming, it can also offer a subtle energy boost, revitalizing the body and mind.

Krista Shirley, a Level 2 authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher and owner of The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, performs the seated pose Janu Sirsasana B from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series in her home. She sits on a yoga mat with her right knee bent and foot near her inner left thigh, and her left leg extended straight in front.

Click here to watch the YouTube tutorial for Janu Sirsasana B

Contraindications and Precautions:

While Janu Sirsasana B offers numerous benefits, there are certain situations in which the pose should be approached with caution or avoided altogether:

Injury or Recent Surgery:

If you have a recent injury, surgery, or chronic condition affecting your hamstrings, hips, or lower back, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional before attempting the pose.

Hamstring Injury:

Individuals with severe hamstring injuries or strains should avoid deep forward folds, as it may exacerbate the injury. Consider modifications or gentle hamstring stretches instead.

Knee Issues:

If you have knee pain or discomfort, be mindful of how you bend the knee of the extended leg.

Lower Back Problems:

Those with lower back issues, such as herniated discs or sciatica, should approach Janu Sirsasana B with caution. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine and avoid rounding excessively.

Pregnancy:

Pregnant women should avoid deep forward folds like Janu Sirsasana B, especially in later stages of pregnancy. Instead, they can practice gentle stretches and modified poses under the guidance of a prenatal yoga instructor.

High Blood Pressure:

Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure should approach forward folds with care, as the position can affect blood pressure. Keep the fold gentle and avoid excessive compression of the abdomen.

Diarrhea or Menstruation:

During these times, it’s recommended to avoid deep forward folds, as they can increase pressure on the abdomen and interfere with natural bodily functions.

Osteoporosis:

If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, it’s important to be cautious with forward folds to prevent excessive stress on the spine. A more gentle variation with props might be suitable.

Always prioritize safety and listen to your body when practicing Janu Sirsasana B or any yoga pose. If you have any underlying health concerns, it’s advisable to consult a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional before attempting the pose to ensure it’s appropriate for your individual circumstances. Remember that yoga is about honoring your body’s needs and limitations.

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Janu Sirsasana B with Sanskrit Vinyasa count

We will be entering this posture from downward facing dog, having just taken a vinyasa after Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana to seated position. 

Sapta (Vinyasa #7): From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.  Inhale, bend your right knee and drop your right knee down and out to the right.  Bring your right foot to your inner left thigh.  Then lift up and sit on your right foot (your heel should be resting on your anus). Lengthen your spine and stretch both arms forward and grab your left foot with both hands.  Left foot is flexed. Head up.

Asthau (Vinyasa #8) Exhale and fold forward out over your straight left leg.  Be sure you maintain flexion in your left foot, engage the left quadricep and press your heel forward as you press your tailbone backward. Bring your chin to your chin if you can.  Look towards your toes (Padhayoragrai drishti). Breathe here for five deep breaths.  With each inhale, elongate your spine, lifting your chest slightly.

Adjustments and Alignment Tips:

    • Keep both sitting bones grounded to maintain balance.
    • Flex your left foot actively to engage the muscles and protect the knee.
    • Lengthen your spine on each inhale and deepen the stretch on each exhale.

Breathing:

    • The vinyasa count guides your breath. Inhale during the lengthening phases and exhale during the folding phases.
    • Maintain deep breathing with sound —a deep, audible breath—throughout the pose to help you stay focused and relaxed.

Nava (Vinyasa #9) Inhale, lift your head and lengthen your spine.  Keep your hands bound around your feet.  Exhale there.

Dasa (Vinyasa #10) Inhale, bring your hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

Ekadasa (Vinyasa #11) Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

Dvadasa (Vinyasa #12) Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

Trayodasa (Vinyasa #13) Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Caturdasa (Vinyasa #14) From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.  Inhale, bend your left knee and drop your left knee down and out to the right.  Bring your left foot to your inner right thigh.  Then lift up and sit on your left foot (your heel should be resting on your anus). Lengthen your spine and stretch both arms forward and grab your right foot with both hands.  Right foot is flexed. Head up.

Pancadasa (Vinyasa #15) Exhale and fold forward out over your straight left leg.  Be sure you maintain flexion in your right foot, engage the right quadricep and press your heel forward as you press your tailbone backward. Bring your chin to your chin if you can.  Look towards your toes (Padhayoragrai drishti). Breathe here for five deep breaths.  With each inhale, elongate your spine, lifting your chest slightly.

Sodasa (Vinyasa #16) Inhale, lift your head and lengthen your spine.  Keep your hands bound around your feet.  Exhale there.

Saptadasa (Vinyasa #17) Inhale, bring your hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

Ashtadasa (Vinyasa #18) Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

Ekoonavimsatih (Vinyasa #19) Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

Vimsatih (Vinyasa #20) Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Tap above or click here to watch the YouTube tutorial for Janu Sirsasana B

Tips and Considerations

  • Patience and Consistency: Achieving Janu Sirsasana B takes time. Be patient and consistent in your practice to gradually improve your flexibility.
  • Alignment Over Depth: Focus on proper alignment rather than forcing yourself into a deep fold. It’s more important to maintain a straight spine than to touch your forehead to your knee.
  • Listen to Your Body: Never push yourself to the point of pain. Respect your body’s limitations and work within your own range of motion.

Modifications for Janu Sirsasana B:

Yoga is all about meeting your body where it is and making the practice work for you. If you’re working on building flexibility or have certain limitations, there are several modifications and variations for Janu Sirsasana B that can help you experience the benefits of the pose while staying safe. Here are a few options:

Bent Knee Variation:

If you have knee issues or tight hamstrings, you can modify the pose by bending the extended leg slightly. This reduces the strain on the hamstring and provides more space for a comfortable forward fold.

Modified foot position:

If you are unable to sit directly on your foot (or it causes pain), simply sit on your hamstring.

Half Janu Sirsasana B:

Instead of folding all the way forward, focus on maintaining a long spine and gentle stretch. This variation can help you work on flexibility over time without going into a deep fold.

Breathing Focus:

Sometimes, even a gentle stretch can provide benefits. Focus on your breath and the sensation of the stretch, rather than aiming for a specific depth in the forward fold.

Remember that the goal of yoga is not to force your body into a shape, but to cultivate awareness, strength, and flexibility over time. Experiment with these modifications to find the variation that suits your current abilities and needs. As your practice evolves, you might find that you gradually need fewer modifications, but always prioritize safety and comfort. If you’re unsure about which modifications are appropriate for you, consider working with a qualified yoga instructor who can provide personalized guidance.

Janu Sirsasana B is a beautiful pose that embodies the balance between effort and surrender in yoga practice. By following this step-by-step guide and incorporating the pose into your Ashtanga Yoga routine, you can gradually enhance your flexibility, release tension, and experience the many physical and mental benefits that this pose has to offer. Remember, yoga is a journey, and each step you take brings you closer to a deeper connection with your body and mind.

Practice with The Yoga Shala

If you want to join us for LIVE classes, The Yoga Shala offers virtual and in person classes every weekday morning. We are located at 140 Circle Drive #4, Maitland, Florida. Owner, Krista Shirley, also offers virtual or in person private sessions (Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship).  Visit theyogashala.com for details.

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We hope you find this video series helpful to you in creating or maintaining your yoga practice!

About Krista

Krista Shirley is a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher.  She is deeply passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

If you want to join Krista in person she teaches daily classes at The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida. She also offers virtual sessions in Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship.  Check out www.theyogashala.com for more details.

If you do not live in Central Florida and want to find an authorized teacher in your area, check out our teacher, Sharath Jois’ website, for a list of all teachers authorized and certified by his yoga centre in India.

 

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