What is Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana?
Known as the Revolved Head to Knee Pose, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is a relaxing, invigorating, chest-opener. It provides the benefits of a perfect twist yet soothing hamstring stretch. As the chest and shoulders are both open here, the posture encourages deep breathing, while strengthening the diaphragm muscle. One side of the rib cage expands, while the other side gets compressed, increasing lower back and core mobility and strength. The connective tissue gets softened and nourished in this stress-relieving, soothing posture.
Position type: Seated
Posture type: Twist
Ideal for: Flexibility and mobility
Targets: Chest, shoulders and back
Pose level: Intermediate
How to prepare for Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana?
Lower back flexibility
Warm-up and prepare the body with continuously practicing asanas for the lower back. Practice backbends such as the camel pose, cobra pose, locust pose and forward bends like seated forward fold and standing forward fold. You can do spinal movements such as circling the spine in cat-cow pose, hamstring stretches such as Supta Padangusthasana (reclined hand-to-big-toe pose). Over a period of time, once flexibility is better, the stretch will be deeper.
Side twists and bends
Practice simpler, beginner-friendly side bends such as seated side bend (Vakrasana) and side bends in the easy pose, lotus pose or thunderbolt pose. Once the body is warmed-up and prepared you can try more challenging side bends such as Half-lord of the fishes pose, triangle pose, extended side angle pose, among others.
The better the core strength, the better the alignment in postures. Practice poses such as Warrior One, Warrior Two, Extended Side Angle Pose and Triangle Pose. You will gradually build strength and stamina, and will be able to hold the posture for longer. Surya Namaskar practiced at a medium to fast pace is also good for strength building.
Shoulder flexibility and mobility
How to do Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Getting into the posture
- Sit in Dandasana and then open the right out to the right side. Bend the left knee, bringing the heel close to the groin.
- Sit firmly and extend through the crown of the head as you inhale.
- Engage the right leg, as you exhale, twist the upper body, bending towards the right leg.
- Keep the core engaged while rotating the ribcage upwards.
- Bring the right elbow towards the right knee or towards the floor. Now raise the left arm, bring it over the head and hold the right foot with both hands (if you can stretch the left without straining it).
- Tuck the chin and turn the head towards the ceiling.
- Stay here for a few deep breaths.
Getting out of the posture
- Come out of the pose following the same steps but in reverse order.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
Key Alignments in Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
- Ensure your chest and shoulders do not fall forward. They should remain open.
- If your elbow does not reach your knee, you can place your hand on the floor or on a block inside of the outstretched leg. Do not force the elbow down as the upper body will end up falling forward.
What are the benefits of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana?
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is an impactful side twist which releases tension in the intercostal muscles between the ribs and on the side and back of the body. The posture encourages deep breathing, breaking out shallow breathing patterns. The side twist also improves flexibility and mobility in the back, strengthening the core muscles. It stretches the hamstrings, groin and shoulders.
What are the contraindications of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana?
Avoid doing this pose if you have knee injuries, back pain, shoulder pain or a stiff neck. In case of knee injuries, you can keep both legs straight as well. If there is discomfort in the neck, keep your gaze on the floor in front of you. You can also place blocks under your right elbow and support your head with your hand.
Counterposes of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Sit in Dandasana, the staff pose for a few minutes to allow the body to settle. Also ensure you practice the pose on both sides.
Variations of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
- You can sit on a folded blanket to find length in your spine with more ease.
- If your elbow does not reach your knee, you can place your hand on the floor or on a block inside of the outstretched leg
- If the hamstrings are tight and you can keep the knees straight, then a slight bend is alright.
- Loop a strap around the foot of the straightened leg and hold onto the strap wherever you find it comfortable to reach.
- Once comfortable in the initial pose, you can take hold of the right foot with both hands and bring the left arm across the body pressing the top of the left thigh down and outwards to increase the stretch.
Advice for Beginners
Focus on building flexibility and mobility even if you can’t achieve the right alignment initially. As you practice more, you will find your core strength also improving allowing you to access the posture more effortlessly.
Shvasa tips for Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
- Use props if you need to as it will help with alignment in the beginning.
- No matter what, ensure your chest and shoulders are pushed back and are open.
- Always learn to practice live with a teacher to ensure you avoid injuries and learn the right way.
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