Pose Breakdown: Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Begin sitting. Extend one leg and bend the other leg so the heel of the foot rests against or near the perineum. If there is sensitivity on the edge of the foot or ankle, soften the surface with a blanket. Turn the torso toward the bent knee. Flex the foot on the extended leg, engage the musculature into an inner spiral rotation and firmly draw the thigh down to the earth. Ground the sitting bones. Maintain these actions through the duration of parivrtta janu sirsasana head-to-knee pose.
Inhale and grow taller through the spine as you reach with the hand (same side as the extended leg) for the thigh, shin, ankle or foot. Rest the hand wherever you can reach and breathe comfortably. Use a gentle grip. Use the same inhale, or wait for the next one, to arc the other arm overhead. Glide the shoulders into the back (away from the ears), draw the shoulder blades together and lengthen the spine through the crown of the head. Use the exhale to spiral the torso, lifting and opening the heart.
Release into the earth as you open to the sky. Use the breath to travel more deeply within, clearing space on the mental and emotional levels, as well as the physical level. Stay in the pose for as long as you like, a minimum of three full breaths. When you inhale to come upright, a fountain of bliss cascades from the crown chakra, showering your Being with sparkling light. Pause, breathe, bask and repeat as necessary.
Variations: Breathe and wait for the body’s invitation to go deeper. You may feel that you’re able to arc further or arc all the way over the extended leg, grasping the foot with both hands. Some of you may be able to rotate your torso and lay your back on the thigh.
I came crawling to yoga. Recovering Bad Girl that I am, I’ve always resisted things that are good for me, and yoga was no exception. By the time I made it to a class, I was rattling through a grueling triple-header of emotional, mental and physical trauma. Yoga was the only place I found relief.
When teaching, I try to remember that underneath everyone’s external presentation is a complex brew of thoughts and emotions. The physical body is the natural manifestation of these emotional states and is the doorway to profound healing and transformation. Guiding people past these limiting layers and back to their infinite core—their Divine nature—is a deep honor and a great joy.
Whether people are challenging boundaries, accepting limitations or grappling with uncomfortable emotions, I do my best to create a loving and compassionate space in class so people can experience whatever arises without judgment.
I offer a blend of poses, breathwork, chant and meditation to support this process. The mandala of these ancient alchemical tools can then transport the practitioner beyond the body and the personality so that they can realize their God Consciousness and wake up from the grip of the ego. We then gain the ability to choose how we are going to live life. For example, I strive for love. For me, it’s the only answer.
The reward I get from Parivrtta Janu Sirsana (Revolved Head to Knee Pose) is always a sure thing. An elegant pose of surrender and opening, PJS is superb for opening the lateral meridians of the spine, which we don’t stretch often. Also, the hips are deeply affected through elongation of the muscles that cradle the pelvis. Yum. And our often moody friends, the hamstrings, are sweetly seduced into opening and lengthening.
Organs are massaged and refreshed, particularly the kidneys and adrenal glands, as toxins are released on a physical level. On a metaphysical level, PJS encourages the release of mental and emotional toxins, and the graceful wisdom of opening and surrendering. As a result, the jewels of PJS emerge, sparkling through our multi-dimensionality (body, mind, emotions and spirit), facilitating deep release, purification, invigoration and spacious calm. This pose wins my “Best Buzz” award.
Lisa Maria is a yoga teacher and journalist in Marin County, north of San Francisco. lisa-maria.com
Enjoy practicing Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana Head-To-Knee Yoga Pose