As the weather starts to get warmer (I feel like we’ve changed seasons about ten times in the past few weeks), I start to crave more cooling postures and longer holds. Forward bends fit both those bills, so I decided that the June Supportive Yoga Pose of the Month is…<drumroll please>…
Janu Sirsasana (and Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)!
This pose is a twist in addition to a forward bend so we get the added benefit of twisting, but unlike a lot of closed twists, this one is really accessible because the shape of the pose allows for space for the belly and chest and we can use a yoga strap if our hamstrings are tight or not cooperating on any particular day.
Start seated on your mat (you can sit up on a blanket if you like, but I prefer to feel my butt rooting into the mat and floor.) Bend your knee and place the foot on the inside of the opposite leg. If your knee is far away from the floor, place a block or blanket underneath it so you are comfortable. If your foot doesn’t make it to your thigh or wherever on your leg, that’s ok too as long as your knee feels ok.
Turn to face your extended leg. This is where the twist action of this pose comes in. Once you are facing your extended leg, place your finger tips down on the floor on either side of you to help you grow tall in the torso. This is a great stretch right here, so if you want to stay at this stage, please do so, especially if you are feeling a lot of stretch in your hamstring on the extended leg, or if your tendency is to round in your spine here. At this point, you can also grab a strap and loop it around the foot on your extended leg, which may also help you keep your spine straight.
If you are folding forward, simply walk your hands closer to your foot, keeping your back as straight as possible. If you can reach your foot, great! If not, also great! If you’ve got a strap, you can start to move your hands closer to your foot on the strap. If you start to schlump or round through the spine, back off a bit, straighten out and stay there.
Parivrtta (revolved) Janu Sirsasana
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is an amazing open twist and side bend. I end most of my home practices with this pose because it feels really good to me in most circumstances. Let me know if you agree!
Set up your legs the same way as in Janu Sirsasana, but this time turn your torso about half way towards your bent knee so you are facing over both legs. Place the same arm as the extended leg on top of the extended leg and the other arm behind you on your sacrum. Twist your torso away from the extended leg and towards the ceiling. This is intense so you might want to hang out here.
If you want to go deeper into the pose, you can add in the top arm. Reach your arm up and over your ear in the general direction of your foot. Don’t sacrifice the openness of the twist though to reach your foot – it’s not nearly as awesome feeling that way. Sometimes I get my foot, sometimes I don’t, but the pose feels fantastic either way. If you like, you can loop a belt around the foot of your extended leg and grab the strap with the arm that’s up over your ear. You might get a little more opening through the twist that way.
As always, I’d love it if you played along and posted a photo of yourself in any of these pose variations on your social media outlet of choice. Just remember to tag #supportiveyoga! What kinds of poses do you crave when the weather gets warmer? Happy practicing!