Janu means the knee. Sirsa is the head. In this posture sit with one leg stretched out on the ground and the other bent at the knee. (Light on Yoga, p148)
The Janu Sirsasana is my go-to pose when I want to do a more restorative and relaxing practice. In fact, Geeta Iyengar has included it as an important asana for women during menstruation (Yoga: A Gem for Women). This is because not only does this posture help to relax the mind, but it also helps to soothe feelings of restlessness and irritability.
Other benefits of the Janu Sirsasana include:
- Relieving chronic headaches and migraines.
- Helps to relax the eyes and the mind.
- Reduces menstrual cramps.
- Regulates menstrual flow.
- Gives a great stretch to the hamstrings and calves.
- Stimulates digestive organs.
Janu sirsasana is usually practiced daily by most practitioners. I personally prefer a supported janu sirsasana so I use practicing it with props. There are many different ways you can use props to make this asana feel more relaxing. Watch this video to see how to do that.
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I tried to update this blog from the airport in Dubai, but I was only able to connect for about half an hour and that wasn’t enough time for this post. So, without further ado, let’s get on to the asanas for Day 1 of Week 1. I’ve tried to put in all the cues that I give during class, but I think it’s always a good idea to get inputs from fellow practitioners.
On Day 1 start by practicing asanas to strengthen your legs. You can do the Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and squats as well until you feel your quads on fire. After that do the following stretches.
Trikonasana (The Triangle Pose)
Remember this asana is not about grabbing your ankle. It’s all about the spine. Visualize an imaginary wall in front of you and try and get your torso as flat against this wall as you can. This will ensure that your spine is extended. Use your core to help extend the spine. Make sure you don’t rest your hand on the leg, but just rest it gently on the leg. Your neck and face should be relaxed. Make sure to push the inner edge of the front foot into the floor and the outer edge of the back foot into the floor.
Parsvakonasana (The Side Angle Pose)
Next deepen your stretch by bending the front leg and getting into the Parsvakonasana. Your front thigh should be parallel to the floor and the arm should be extended out. There should be a uniform stretch along the side of your body. Make sure the side of your body doesn’t rest on the thigh. To ensure this you may want to slightly lift your hand off of the floor ensuring your core and your legs have to support your body weight. Look up at your finger tips. Relax your neck and face.
Janusirsasana (Head to Toe Touch)
Do this pose in the end to stretch the back of your legs. However, in this pose, as in all other poses, pay attention to your core. You want to make sure that you pull your stomach in and extend forward keeping your back straight. This will ensure a deeper stretch. Aim to get your chin to the knee instead of forehead to knee. Also, make sure you cross your arms when you reach forward. This ensures that the stretch on your back is even.