MANOA YOGA CENTER
Ray Madigan demonstrates stage one of the janu sirasana.
Stage 1 (Head-knee pose) »
This forward extension brings freedom to the hips and strengthens and stretches the back muscles and spine. Janu sirasana helps keep the prostate healthy to maintain spleen and kidney function.
1. Sit on the floor, keeping your legs straight.
2. Relax your right leg so that the right foot falls to the side -- externally rotated. Let your right knee bend slightly.
3. Lean forward and scoop your left hand under the right foot and right hand under the right calf.
4. Slowly bring your right foot to the root of the left thigh. Release the right leg and let the side of the thigh rest on the floor. If hip stiffness keeps the knee in the air, sit on a support, such as a folded blanket, until the knee is at the same height as the groin. Put a support under the knee as well.
5. Press your straight left leg into the floor, turning the leg in so the left knee faces straight up. Keep the right leg down.
6. Extend your arms up overhead as you press your buttock bones and left leg down. This downward pressure, combined with the upward extension of the arms, helps you lift your spine in and up.
7. Keep this upward extension as you turn and face the trunk toward the straight leg. Do not let the buttock bones lose their position. Keep your left leg straight and pressing down.
8. Inhale and lift your spine. Keep this extended spine as you bend from the hips and catch your toes. This might take some practice, so repeat these movements until your range of motion increases. Do not overexert yourself, and be sensitive to the messages that your knees, back and hamstrings are sending. Do not let your left leg bend or right knee lift. If you cannot catch your foot, use a belt as shown in the photo. Most people tend to bend in the back instead of in the hips, so concentrate on keeping your back long and your spine in and up as you fold from the groin.
9. After catching your toes, lift the spine again and turn your trunk so it faces over the left leg. Keep this rotation as you extend the lifted spine forward and up. Lift the chest through the arms and look up, drawing the upper back and whole spine in. Relax and repeat this action several times until some freedom of movement comes.
10. Hold pose up to a minute, maintaining the lift of the spine and chest. If you grip the strap farther from the foot, you can create more movement in the spine and chest. Don't slump.
11. Gaze up with soft eyes and throat. Breathe evenly through your nose.
Next week: Stage two, in which we extend forward.
and Shelley Choy
are certified Iyengar Yoga teachers and co-direct the Manoa Yoga Center at Manoa Marketplace. Visit www.manoayoga.com
or call 382-3910. Manoa Yoga Center, the authors and the Star-Bulletin take no responsibility for any injury arising from the practice of these yoga postures. Readers should seek a doctor's approval before commencing this yoga practice.