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Benefits of Janu Shirshasana (Head to Knee Pose) and How to Do it by Dr Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice that originated in India. It aims at improvement of both physical and psychological well-being. In addition, yogasanas give the physical and mental stability and strength required to maintain a posture. Janu shirshasana is one of the seating position yoga. It has several benefits for health. It may aid in digestion and enhance liver and kidney functions. It might also help strengthen the muscles of the stomach. This position is a beginner-level yogasana.1,2 Let us read and find out more about janu shirshasana. 

janu shirshasana

What is Janu Shirshasana? 

Janu shirshasana is also called head to knee pose yoga. In the Sanskrit language, janu means the knee, sirsa means the head and asana means posture. Adho mukha svanasana, supta padangusthasana and baddha konasana are the preparatory poses for janu shirshasana yoga. There are 27 variations of the janu shirshasana pose. Some variations of janu shirshasana are revolved head to knee pose (parivrtta shirshasana), janu shirshasana C (head on knee pose C), janu shirshasana B (head on knee pose B), head on knee pose with blanket bolsters and many more. Let’s know more about the process of janu shirshasana. People who have practised janu shirshasana can start practising parivrtta shirshasana (revolved head-to-knee pose) as a follow-up pose.  

How to do it?2 

  • Sit on a mat or the floor. Extend your legs in front. 
  • Now, bend your left knee and bring the sole of the left foot inside the right thigh. 
  • Then, bend forward and stretch your hands towards the right foot until they reach it keeping your elbows straight. 
  • Grab the toes of the right foot with the left hand. 
  • Hold the edge of the leg with the right hand. 
  • Try to bring your head as close as possible to your right knee. 
  • Bringing the head all the way to the knee will be challenging for beginners. Do not try to force it. 
  • The position should relax the back while the arms do the work. 
  • Hold the final position for as long as you feel comfortable, and take deep breaths. 
  • Then repeat the posture with the second leg. 
  • Complete five rounds for each leg. 

Do You Know? 

Some fun read facts about head to knee yoga pose are as follows: 

  • Janu shirshasana was discovered in the 20th century in the book ‘Yoga Makaranda’ by Krishnamacharya in 1934. 
  • It is also mentioned in the book ‘Light of yoga’ by Iyengar in 1966 and in ‘Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga’ by Pattabhi Jois.  

In my view, incorporating Janu Shirshasana into your routine might be worth a try. Did you know that this yoga pose might have some unexpected benefits? It might actually lend a helping hand in managing hernia and enlargement of testicles.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Benefits of Janu Shirshasana 

Following are the benefits of janu shirshasana: 

1. Benefits of janu shirshasana for obesity 

Obesity is India is on the rise. People suffering from obesity can practise yoga from the comforts of their home. Practising janu shirshasana has been associated with the stretching of abdominal muscles. This posture may also help manage spikes in blood sugar levels and body mass index.2 However, consult a doctor for obesity related concerns and consider their opinion before trying any new exercise and poses. Also, it is best to practise the asana under the guidance of an expert.   

2. Benefits of janu shirshasana for diabetes 

A study by Khedikar et al., 2018 proved that yoga asanas such as janu shirshasana and pranayama effectively manage diabetes. This yoga exercise may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Insulin sensitivity is the body’s sensitivity to the effects of insulin.3 Thus, you may use yoga practice to manage blood sugar levels. However, do not use it as an alternative treatment, strictly adhere to doctor’s advice and follow the treatment protocol.  It is best to visit a doctor for better outcomes.  

3. Benefits of janu shirshasana for gastritis 

Gastritis is a condition that causes deterioration and inflammation of the stomach lining. Beeram et al., 2020 proved the positive effect of yoga therapy, including janu shirshasana, on gastritis. It showed that janu shirshasana through vestibular stimulation could improve gastritis by lowering stress and inhibiting heparinase (HPA). HPA is responsible for inflammation. Stress is one of the major contributors to gastritis. Therefore, you may use shirshasana to improve gastritis symptoms. However, it should be used as an adjuvant therapy along with medication prescribed by your doctor.4 It is important to seek medical help for gastritis.  

4. Benefits of janu shirshasana for irritable bowel syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disease characterised by abdominal pain and abnormal bowel habits. Evans et al., 2014 studied the effect of yoga, such as janu shirshasana, on irritable bowel syndrome. The results showed janu shirshasana was effective in lowering the intensity of IBS symptoms like pain, fatigue and distress while improving the sleep quality.5 However, you must see a doctor for better outcome and to avoid any complications.  

5. Benefits of janu shirshasana for cancer 

Lymphedema is a condition that occurs in breast cancer patients. Swelling of arms and fatigue are common symptoms of lymphedema. Saraswathi et al., 2021 proved that yoga therapy, including janu shirshasana, may be effective against breast cancer symptoms. Yoga therapy lowered the symptoms such as pain, depression and exhaustion. It might also positively affect the quality of life (QOL) and mood.6 However, the result of janu shirshasana on breast cancer needs to be explored. Please consult the doctor to avoid complications. 

6. Benefits of janu shirshasana for spinal muscles  

Janu shirshasana is a forward bending position where your spinal muscles get stretched. The muscles on the side of the back may also get stretched. As a result, the spinal muscles may strengthen.2 However, please visit a doctor for proper therapy and try this under the supervision of a trainer. 

7. Other benefits of janu shirshasana: 

  • Janu shirshasana may help in digestion.3 
  • It may stimulate the liver and kidneys, allowing them to perform better.1 
  • It might stretch the legs and makes them flexible.2 

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. You must not rely on yoga alone to treat any condition. Please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries.  

In my opinion, practising Janu Shirshasana might also improve the circulation of blood in your body. As you assume this pose, gentle stretching and bending may help increase the blood flow to your legs and hips. Moreover, Janu Shirshasana might be particularly recommended for those who have rigid or less flexible bodies.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Risks of Exercise 

  • If you have any knee or back issues, it is best to avoid this yoga. Kindly consult a healthcare professional prior to trying this pose. Consult an experienced yoga trainer for better health results. 
  • Pain is a definite alarming signal to discontinue practising janu shirshasana. Please consult a doctor before you can begin again. It is better to practice this pose under the guidance of your trainer.  

With the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga teacher/yoga expert, we can assess and analyse the risk factors and continue to practice the exercise with precautions.  

As per my observations, Janu Shirshasana is a yoga pose that might do wonders for your hamstrings and hip joints. When you practice this pose, it may gently stretch your hamstring muscles, making them more flexible. At the same time, it also might help increase the flexibility of your hip joints.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Conclusion  

Janu shirshasana, or head to knee pose, is a forward-bending pose yoga. It has several benefits, such as stretching and strengthening the spine and stomach muscles. You may also practice this asana for managing diabetes, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and gastritis. However, if you feel any stomach or back pain while performing janu shirshasana, please consult a doctor. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is janu shirshasana yoga helpful in hair growth?  

No, however, more research is needed to determine the effects of janu shirshasana on hair growth. So, kindly consult a doctor for a detailed diagnosis and treatment for hair related issues. 

Is janu shirshasana have any effect on the skin?  

No, however, further studies are required to determine the effects of janu shirshasana on the skin. Hence, please consult the doctor for health results. 

State the benefits of janu shirshasana asana for pelvic health.  

Janu shirshasana stretches your hamstrings and groin area, enhancing their flexibility and may allow comfortable childbirth. In addition, it may help pregnant women who suffer from sleeplessness, a common occurrence throughout pregnancy. Janu shirshasana might also prepare your stomach muscles for contractions during childbirth.1 However, pregnant women should practice this pose under the supervision of a trained professional to avoid any risks. Also, make sure to consult a doctor before trying any exercise or pose.  

Is janu shirshasana beneficial in vision?  

No. Although, more research is required to determine the effect of janu shirshasana on vision. 

Is janu shirshasana effective in the treatment of leprosy? 

No. However, before performing janu shirshasana, please see your doctor and practise this asana under the supervision of an experienced yoga trainer. 

References: 

  1. Singh C, Reddy TO, Singh V. Benefit of Yoga Poses for Women during Pregnancy. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340731445_Benefit_of_Yoga_Poses_for_Women_during_Pregnancy 
  1. Morello T. The Yoga Beginner’s Bible: Top 63 Illustrated Poses for Weight Loss, Stress Relief and Inner Peace. 3rd ed. Pronoun; 2017. Available from: https://www.pdfdrive.com/the-yoga-beginners-bible-top-63-illustrated-poses-for-weight-loss-stress-relief-and-inner-peace-e176257474.html 
  1. Khedikar SG, Erande MP. MANAGEMENT OF DIABETES MELLITUS THROUGH AASANA AND PRANAYAMA. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sachin-Khedikar/publication/328305138_MANAGEMENT_OF_DIABETES_MELLITUS_THROUGH_AASANA_AND_PRANAYAMA/links/5bc56bfe458515f7d9bf2675/MANAGEMENT-OF-DIABETES-MELLITUS-THROUGH-AASANA-AND-PRANAYAMA.pdf 
  1. Beeram S, Lakshmi A. EFFICACY OF YOGA AND NATUROPATHY IN THE MANAGEMENT OF GASTRITIS. European Journal of Biomedical. 2020;7(12):219-25. Available from: https://storage.googleapis.com/journal-uploads/ejbps/article_issue/volume_7_december_issue_12/1606466668.pdf 
  1. Evans S, Lung KC, Seidman LC, Sternlieb B, Zeltzer LK, Tsao JC. Iyengar yoga for adolescents and young adults with irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. 2014 Aug;59(2):244. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4146428/pdf/nihms614814.pdf 
  1. Saraswathi V, Latha S, Niraimathi K, Vidhubala E. Managing lymphedema, increasing range of motion, and quality of life through yoga therapy among breast cancer survivors: A systematic review. International journal of yoga. 2021 Jan;14(1):3. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023442/pdf/IJY-14-3.pdf 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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