We don't like to lie to you, dear readers, so bear with us when we say this pose (also known as Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose) is a bit weird. It feels slightly wrong; your breathing is laboured and if you were to try and talk, your voice would sound like one of the muppets.
But it does good things, really good things, as Olga Allon, Director of London's Hot Bikram Yoga explains: "This is a forward compression pose, and your throat is meant to feel a little bit choked. By compressing this area of the body, you're compressing and massaging the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating the metabolism and immune system. Instead of trying to take huge lungfulls of air, take little 'sips' of air and regulate your breathing."
Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana: Step by Step
1. Stand with your feet together, heels and toes touching, and arms by your side. Bring your palms together, fingers interlaced, with only the index fingers released and extended. Inhale, bring your arms straight up so that your biceps are touching your ears. Exhale and take a big step (about one metre) forward with your right leg.
2. Inhale, contract your abs and slowly dive foward as if you're diving into water, tucking your chin to your chest and allowing your spine to curve into an upside-down horseshoe shape.
3. When your hands meet the floor, seperate them and place them either side of your front foot. Inhale and as you exhale, bring your forehead to touch your knee by bending your front leg if necessary.
4. Try to level your hips to a point where a tray could be balanced on your lower back. If you feel stable enough (keeping your abs tight helps), bring your hands back to prayer position in front of your right foot. Keep your back leg straight and always have your forehead on your front knee, even if you have to keep the leg bent. If you can straighten the front knee, great; if not, forehead to knee is more important.
Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana: The Benefits
"Runners might struggle with this pose, as it stretches the hamstrings which are notoriously tight in runners," says Olga. "There's a common misconception that 'good posture' is all about keeping a ramrod straight back all the time, but in Bikram we allow the spine to stretch by having forward bends such as this. After this pose you should feel taller, loser and calmer after the intensity of the previous pose (Trikanasana or Triangle pose)."
Along with stimulating the thyroid (which when malfunctioning, can cause seemingly inexplicable weight loss or gain, as well as other nasty side effects), this pose helps tone your abdominal area and your glute muscles.
This pose also stretches out the hamstrings. Yes, we know - we bang on about tight hamstrings a lot on this blog - but as we're yet to meet a runner with loose hamstrings, we'll keep on for as long as we need to! If you're reading this blog, chances are you need all the hamstring stretches you can get - enjoy it.