Come into a seated forward fold in order to find stillness and calm the mind, while stretching and extending the hamstrings and spine. Janu Sirsasana has many benefits including helping to relieve anxiety, mild depression, headaches and menstrual discomfort as well as helping to aid in the digestion process. It can even be practiced as a prenatal pose, with a doctor’s permission, with modifications (omit the forward fold, and instead, lengthen the spine upwards, creating a concave extension of the spine) in order to strengthen the muscles in the back.
As a preparatory pose, fold into Uttanasana, Standing Forward Bend, in order to gently stretch the hamstrings and muscles in the back and shoulders. Click here for instructions on this standing version of a forward fold.
To do Janu Sirsasana: Come to a seat. Option to sit on a blanket or towel for support and if you have tight hamstrings. Extend the right leg out and bring the sole of the left foot to the inside of the right thigh, near the perineum, at a right angle. If the left knee does not touch the ground, you can place a blanket, towel, or block under the knee for support. Flex the right foot towards the face.
On in inhalation, bring the arms up over the head in order to lengthen the spine. On an exhalation, turn the belly in line with the right thigh. Stay here and take another inhale breath.
Lead with the heart and extend the spine forward. Ideally, the belly touches the thighs first and then the head, if accessible in the body. Never force the body into going deeper. Allow the breath to guide you as you find extension in the torso and in the extended leg. Bring the palms to the outside of the feet and allow the elbows to drop to rest on the ground.
On the inhale, take a half-way lift and extend the crown of the head and heart space forward, and on an exhale, extend the heart towards the foot and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Relax the head and neck by dropping the chin towards the chest in order to allow the back of the neck to grow long and to create a throat “lock.” Draw the low belly in towards the spine.
Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full rounds of breath, long and smooth inhales and exhales. Visualize the breath moving into the tight areas of the body, creating space and releasing tension. Repeat on the other side.
Notice how you feel after doing this calming forward fold. Notice if the body feels any “lighter” after releasing tension and more at ease.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If
a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga
IRY offers regularly scheduled classes on, Sat., Sun. and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class. We have also added a new Meditation class on Wed. evenings, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.