Standing Head to Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Janushirasana)

More than anything, I think this posture is great for concentration and, when the full expression is achieved – a little confidence boost.  But make sure you’re doing it properly.

Standing Head to Knee Pose has four basic steps to it:

1. Standing with your toes even and flat on the floor.  Make sure your weight is evenly distributed across the heel, ball of the foot and pinky side.  Bend down and pick up one foot (we always start by picking up the right).  Interlace your fingers under your toes, including your thumbs.  Make sure your chin is perpendicular to the floor, round your back and keep your thigh parallel to the ground.  Flex your toes so they are pointed up and pull in your stomach.  Now focus on the standing leg, the knee must be flat, the thigh flexed.  The dialogue says that your leg should be like a lamppost – unbroken, you have no knee.

This was hard enough for me.  So many people want to jump in to the second part but I stayed with this for a while.  If I spent any amount of time away from Bikram, this was always the pose that gave the most trouble when I came back.  I see so many people trying to jump in to the second part on a bent knee.  NO NO NO

2. IF your standing knee is locked THEN you can start to kick out.  I find it easier to stand with my leg out straight than with it bent.  It hurts my back less.  With my leg out straight, I can see myself in the mirror and can start to make some adjustments that help with any stress even more.  I re-flex my foot but most importantly I make sure my shoulders aren’t in my ears which helps straighten out my back.

3. Bend your elbows towards the floor and start to round the spine.  Keep your elbows close to your knee.  The trick here is to start to bring your weight forward so more is resting on the ball of the foot than the heel.  For the longest time this pose intimidated me.  I think that led to fear which led to me leaning back when I should have trusted myself and lent forward a bit.  My teacher at Bikram Yoga East Harlem explained to me that I was so close and just needed to believe a little.  With her guidance I was able to achieve the full expression of the pose, which leads us to…

4. Actually getting your head to your knee as the name of the pose suggests.  This all comes down to confidence.  If you are balanced properly in stage 3 with both legs straight and strong, this won’t be a problem.  Slowly look down, tuck your chin to your chest and bring your forehead to your knee.  Rounding your spine helps as does engaging your stomach muscles.

Slowly come out of the pose, taking each step in reverse and then repeat on the other side.  Or fall out, still happy because at least you tapped you head to your knee – or maybe that’s just me.

More than anything, give yourself time.  I have been practicing consistently for a while now and have only recently been able to tap my head to my knee.  This posture will strengthen your back, arms, shoulders, legs and abs.  It increases flexibility in your hamstrings and helps your balance.  But more than anything it helps in your patience and determination.

Namaste.

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