Utthitajanu Sirshasana (Upward Facing Head Between Knees Pose)

The Sanskrit word utthita means ‘raised’ or ‘upwards’; janu means ‘knee’ and sirsha means ‘head’. The English translation is rather long: ‘the upward facing head between the knees pose’. The asana is so called because the head is placed between the knees with the face upwards. This asana is sometimes called ‘utthan asana’. Only people with very flexible backs should attempt to do this asana.

Technique

Stand upright with the legs about 25 cms apart. Let the arms hang limply beside the body. Do stage 2 as described for pada hastasana. Bend the legs at the knees. While exhaling wrap the arms horizontally around the back of the knees, elbows pointing outwards. Relax the body. Breathe normally for a short period. Then exhale deeply. Try to place the fingers on the back of the neck. Try to slowly straighten the legs without letting the fingers slip from the back of the neck. Do not strain; apply a little force to straighten the legs, but not too much.

The action of straightening the legs will apply a strong leverage on the spine and a firm compression of the abdomen. The final pose is shown. The legs should be as straight as is comfortably possible. The face should look backwards and upwards. Breathe deeply and slowly. Hold the final pose for a minute or so. Then bend the legs and relax. Return to the final pose by again straightening the legs. Stay in the final pose for a comfortable duration, breathing deeply. Release the final pose. Then either repeat the final pose or return to the starting position as described in stage 5 of pada hastasana. All other details are as described for pada hastasana. The benefits are the same though more intense.

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