• T
  • H
  • M
  • Stretch Your Tight Hamstrings One Leg at a Time with Janusirsasana A

    janu sirsasana A with hand clasping wrist

    Janu Sirsasana A, B and C can all be thought of as seated yoga poses as well as hamstring stretches.

    In all versions of this pose one knee is straight.
    The other knee is bent with the shin folded to the inside of the thigh as opposed to the outside.
    (In half hero pose or "triang muka eka pada paschimotanasana" the bent knee shin is folded to the outside of the thigh.)

    In the "A" version of Janu Sirsasana the foot of the bent knee is placed against the inner thigh with the heel (ideally) close to the groin and the outer edge of the foot flat on the floor.

    In the "B" position the foot position is similiar except that you sit on the heel of your bent knee foot.

    In the "C" variation the sole of the foot is again placed against the inner thigh but the foot points downwards with the ball of the foot on the floor.

    janu sirsasana a prep position, sitting uprightgetting into janu sirsasana b (ankle straight, foot in line with the shin.Janu Sirsasana C, torso upright to show foot position

    In all of these variations, you can bend forwards once the foot is in position.

    Note that for the C variation, you might choose to remain upright until you get used to the position of the foot and knee.

    When bending forwards you can a foot or wrist and then use your arms to pull your ribcage towards your foot to create space and length in your body.

    Try to do this without compressing the hip joint of the leg that you are stretching.

    Stretching the Hamstring

    You can use Janu Sirsasana A as a means of working towards the Seated Forward Bend (where both legs are straight).

    To make it easier to stretch your hamstring in this posture you can start with the angle between your pelvis and your straight leg slightly more open (110 to 120 degrees). You can then work at reduicing the angle as your hamstring lengthens.

    You can also practice opening your hip joint prior to bending forwards.

    Opening, or "creating space" in the hip joint may make it easier to stretch your hamstring.

    Initial Set Up

    Place the bent knee foot against the inner thigh of the straight leg. If your bent knee doesn't naturally touch the floor, place a book or block under it so that you have something to press your leg down into. You can move the block outwards gradually as your bent knee hip opens up.

    Make Your Legs Feel Long

    janu sirsasana prep position, sitting upright with arms reaching forwards.

    Sitting upright in janu sirsasana, you can practice creating space in the hip joint. This action may make your legs feel longer because you are reaching your thigh bone away from your pelvis.

    Focusing on your straight leg first, reach your knee away from you hip socket each time you inhale. Relax when you exhale. The movement is very slight (a few millimeters!) but you may notice a pulling feeling around your hip. Do the same thing with your bent knee leg, each inhale "pull" or "reach" your knee away from the hip socket.

    Work towards "opening" both hip sockets at the same time. Relax them together also.

    Once you get the feeling of this action then focus on pressing through the heel and forefoot of your straight leg as you open both hips. Relax while exhaling.

    Once you get the feeling of "opening your hips" you can also practice lengthening your spine and arms at the same time.

    Lengthen Your Spine

    Practice lengthening your spine while sitting upright. As you inhale open both hips and slowly lengthen your spine upwards. Pull your head back and up, and lift your ribs away from your pelvis. Pull your chin in to make the back of your neck feel long. Slowly relax as you exhale.

    Reach With Your Arms

    Next add your arms, as you inhale lift your arms and reach them forwards while still sitting upright. Slowly lower them as you exhale.

    Make Your Body Feel Expanded and Large

    The overall feeling of your body when inhaling is one of slowly becoming bigger. While exhaling the feeling is of slowly relaxing. If you move smoothly and slowly between these extremes (4 to 5 seconds inhale and exhale…. see if you can work up to 7 seconds) you may find the movement feels quite comfortable.

    Adding the Hamstring Stretch

    To turn the seated version of Janu Sirsasana into a hamstring stretch, add a pelvic tilt.

    As you inhale tilt your pelvis forwards. Lenghten your spine and open your hips as you do so. Exhale and sit up straight.

    As you tilt forwards focus on reaching your ribs and head away from you pelvis. Also focus on reaching your knees away from your pelvis. You can also focus on pushing your pelvis back.

    Relax when you are sitting up straight.

    Reaching and Then Relaxing

    janu sirsasana A with hands reaching forwards off of the floorjanu sirsasana with hands and elbows on the floor, elbows bent

    For the next phase of janu sirsasana, keep the leg position and place your hands on the floor. Tilt your pelvis forwards. Also allow your spine to bend forwards.

    The leg action is the same, but now straighten your spine while inhaling, bend it and allow your ribcage and head to sink down while exhaling.

    Once you have that action, then lift your arms and then reach them forwards while inhaling, set them down on the floor while exhaling.

    Slowly Lift and Lower Your Hands

    When lifting your hands, take your hands off of the floor gradually and slowly. Reach your arms forwards slowly and smoothly. While exhaling, place your hands on the floor first, slowly relax your ribs and head down.

    Note that at first it may be "enough" just lifting your hands off of the floor. Lifting your hands up adds weight to the hamstring stretch and if you aren't used to this then proceed slowly.

    Slowly relax your arms while they are on the floor. Then take them off of the floor. Then slowly reach them forwards to gradually add more weight.

    Holding Janu Sirsasana

    Once you are used to reaching and then relaxing while in janu sirsasana, you can focus on first bending forwards with your hands on the floor. From there open both hip sockets, lengthen your spine and reach your arms forwards.

    Look forwards and reach forwards with your eyes also. Hold this position while inhaling and exhaling.

    You can focus on actively pressing your straight leg down into the floor so that the back of your straight leg is strong. Then, after 5 or 10 breaths you can slowly place your hands on the floor.

    As you let your ribcage sink down you can focus on relaxing the hamstring of your straight leg and at the same time lengthening it by tilting your pelvis slowly forwards.

    Another option is to allow your pelvis to tilt forwards while your hands are lifted.

    In this case slowly lengthen your hamstrings while keeping them active and then, when you place your hands on the floor, continue to lengthen your hamstrings but focus on relaxing them at the same time.

    Note that if you can't get your pelvis past vertical when trying to bend forwards, bend your straight leg knee and/or sit on books or a block or even a chair.

    If using a chair, you may need to place a support under your straight leg knee.

    Return to Home Page

    Return to Hamstring Stretches from Janu Sirsasana

    Ashtanga Yoga

    What's New?

    Transverse Abdominal Exercises

    The transverse abdominis muscle can be broken down into three parts. Transverse abdominal exercises can thus affect the SI Joint, lumbar spine and the lower portion of the ribcage.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominal Exercises"

    Knee Strengthening Exercises

    To improve the resiliency of your knees it can help to exercise them in a variety of positions. The following yoga poses can be used as knee strengthening exercises. The trick is to activate your knees while doing them.

    Continue reading "Knee Strengthening Exercises"

    Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn to consciously control your quads and hip flexors with Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors. This downloadable video course teaches you how to feel and activate your quadriceps (the vastus muscles) as well as the rectus femoris, tensor fascae latae and sartorius muscles.

    Continue reading "Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors"

    Calf Stretches

    For any calf stretch you have to bend your ankle forwards to stretch the soleus and/or gastrocnemius. How you bend the ankle forwards can make the stretch more or less effective.

    Continue reading "Calf Stretches"

    Yoga for Flexibility

    Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.

    Continue reading "Yoga for Flexibility"

    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes"

    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes"

    Learning to Activate your Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn how to activate your quads and hip flexors so that you can use them at will. Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors not only teaches you how to activate and relax your quads and hip flexors at will, it also teaches you how to feel when they are active and when they are relaxed. This clearly defined awareness can help you get more in touch with your body.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate your Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors"

    Arm Supported Yoga Poses

    Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.

    Continue reading "Arm Supported Yoga Poses"

    Stability in Yoga Poses

    Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

    Exercises in Muscle Control

    Exercises in muscle control 1 teachers you how to activate and relax your knees, hips, front and back of the leg and also inner and outer thighs. These activations can be used in standing poses as leg strenghtening exercises and to improve flexiblity.

    Continue reading "Exercises in Muscle Control"

    Transverse Abdominus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

    The transverse abdominus muscle can affect the SI joint, lumbar and lower thoracic spine stability, used in various diaphragmatic breathing techniques and act as a tension adjuster for the rectus abdominus.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus

    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus can mean better stability for the SI Joint as well as for the lumbar and lower thoracic spine.

    Continue reading "Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus"

    Joint Pain Yoga

    Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Joint Pain Yoga"

    Feeling Your Center of Gravity

    Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.

    Continue reading "Feeling Your Center of Gravity"

    Camel Yoga Pose

    Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.

    Continue reading "Camel Yoga Pose"

    How to do Squats

    A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.

    Continue reading "How to do Squats"

    Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability

    The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability"

    Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy

    Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?

    Continue reading "Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy"

    Why Improve Body Awareness

    Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.

    Continue reading "Why Improve Body Awareness"