Wednesday 1 August 2012

Dandayamana - Janushirasana – Standing Head to Knee Pose - For beginners

You may find that your foot is much farther away than you thought it was! But once you grab it, you will want a good grip, so if your feet or hands are wet with perspiration, wipe them with the towel first.

As a beginner, keeping the standing leg tight and locked is the most important thing, even if that is all you can do the first day. Also, the concept of “straightening” the leg is incomplete.  You will find progress if you think in terms of bowing the leg backward rather than straightening it.
Relaxation comes into play here. People tend to translate instructions to “straighten and stretch” as “tense and tighten.” But not until you fully relax the standing knee, letting it bow right backward, will it really straighten. Don’t fight it. Don’t be scared. Let go!

Don’t be discouraged if you feel ten months pregnant and trying to tie your shoelaces as you attempt to straighten your raised leg out parallel to the floor. Even ballet dancers in tip-top condition have trouble doing it at first, plus not falling over in the process. So why should you be any different?
The fact is, straightening the extended leg has nothing to do with the leg itself; the leg is only there to connect your foot to your body. Your focus of attention must be on your foot, pulling hard on the toes until they point back toward you, pushing the heel forward with all your might. In addition, you will never get the toes pulled fully back, the heel thrust fully forward, and thus the leg fully straightened unless you  - again – relax!! Give it your honest effort each day. But be patient with yourself. This is a toughie.

Do not attempt to bend forward and touch your head to your knee until you can straighten the extended leg and lock the knee. This is an absolute rule!!

Do, however, get those elbows down toward the floor from the very beginning, almost hugging your leg, rather than letting them point outward like chicken wings. This makes balance easier, increases the pull on your toes, and will speed your progress in touching head to knee.
If you keep losing balance, it is because you are not keeping gaze fixed, as though your eyeballs had turned to stone, on one spot either in front of you or on the floor. Experimentation will find the spot that works best for you.

To start getting forehead down to the knee, use brute strength, gallons of perspiration, and whatever huffing and puffing makes you feel good. Once your muscles and tendons become fairly flexible and you are about halfway there, you can cheat a little. Hold your position to the count of eight, bent as far as you can go. Then the last two seconds of the posture, pull your leg upward more strongly and reach with your forehead even more, trying to touch the knee if only for a split second.
You may fall over the first few times, but your body and your muscles will begin to remember and to figure out what they have to do to eventually make the contact and hold it.

Balance in the final stages of the Standing Head to Knee is accomplished by bowing everything farther and farther and pulling more firmly upward, toward, and “into” yourself.  Another trick to remember is relaxing everything in the hip joints, buttocks, and the lower spine.


The Standing Head to Knee helps develop concentration, patience, and determination. Physically, it tightens abdominal and thigh muscles, improves flexibility of the sciatic nerves, and strengthens the tendons, biceps of the thigh muscles, and hamstrings in the legs, in addition to the deltoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps and triceps.
Read more about this pose benefits, pictures, video and tips from here
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dandayamana Janushirasana - Standing head to knee pose builds mental strength.