On the home straight of the Bikram yoga series of postures, Janushirasana (head to knee pose) allows for a final spine and hamstring stretch, allowing you to maximise all the losening up work done in the previous 90 minutes of the class.
Janushirasana: Step by Step
1. Sit down with your legs wide, at a 90 degree angle to each other. Extend the right leg out straight and left leg bent, with the sole of your left foot pressed flat against the inner thigh/groin area of your right leg.
2. Inhale and lift your arms up in the air with fingers interlaced in the Bikram grip. Stretch your whole torso central over your right leg and grab the ball of your right foot, keeping your fingers interlaced, thumbs included.
3. The object of the pose is to have your forehead and your knee touching. Don't worry if your forehead is nowhere near your bent leg, you can bend your right leg as much as necessary to ensure your forehead is on the knee.
4. With the forehead and knee touching, gently stretch out your right leg, leading with the heel, pressing the forehead against the knee until eventually, when flexibility improves, your right leg will be completely straight and your forehead will be able to remain there comfortably.
5. Your elbows should be bent either side of your calf muscles and if you can fully extend your leg, lift your heel up off the floor. There are various stages to this posture depending on your flexibility, but remember, forehead to knee is the most important aspect, so bend the leg as much as you need to. Repeat the set up but with your left leg extended and right leg bent.
Janushirasana: The Benefits
"This is actually a compression posture with added stretching benefits for runners," says Olga Allon, director of Hot Bikram Yoga in London (hotbikramyoga.co.uk). "By rounding your spine and placing the forehead on the knee, the compression of the front side of your body can help increase circulation to the liver, pancreas, thyroid and intestines. The foot placed against your inner thigh can help stimulate the lymphatic system and immune system."
"This posture is great for runners as it provides a a deep hamstring stretch and helps ease any tightness in the ankle and hip joints," she says. "During this posture, you also strengthen the arms and spine."
Bikram specialist Olga Allon teaches at London's Hot Bikram Yoga.