How to Do Revolved Head to Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman sitting on yoga mat in revolved head to knee pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Spiralled Head to Knee Pose

Targets: Spine, hamstrings, shoulders

Level: Beginner

The Revolved Head to Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana) involves a forward bend with a twist to give you a great stretch. You will most often see it in the second half of a yoga session after your body has had time to limber up. It is a good addition to a seated yoga practice.

Benefits

This pose stretches the hamstrings and opens the shoulders, chest, and groin. The side stretch can help open up your ribcage and could improve your breathing. As a spinal twist, it traditionally is believed to improve digestion and relieve headaches and insomnia. It is also considered to be a calming pose. The stretch feels great if you have a job where you sit all day or if you have tight hamstrings from sports such as running.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin in Seated Wide-Legged Straddle (Upavistha Konasana).
  2. Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot to your inner left thigh.
  3. Lean your torso as far to the left as possible, bringing the back side of your left forearm to the floor inside your left leg. If you don't make it that far over, bring your left arm to your shin or higher up towards the thigh instead.
  4. Begin to twist your upper body away from your left leg, opening your chest to the ceiling. If your left arm is inside the left leg, you can press the arm into the leg for resistance as you twist.
  5. Lift your gaze upwards, letting your neck and head follow the twist in the spine.
  6. Raise your right arm overhead and then let the right biceps come over your right ear. Keep your right arm straight.
  7. As an alternative, bend the right elbow and hold the back of your head with your right hand. Don't let the right elbow collapse inward. Work to keep it opening to the right.
  8. Keep your left foot flexed.
  9. After several breaths, untwist and come back up to sitting position. Switch the position of your legs for a twist to the other side.

    Common Mistakes

    To get the most from this pose, avoid these errors.

    Rotating Neck Too Far

    Don't overdo the neck rotation. Remember that twisting your neck a lot doesn't make for a deeper twist in the torso.

    Not Keeping Torso in Line

    To prevent strain, you want your torso and head to be in a long, straight line without your head dropping down and your spine rounding.

    Waiting to Straighten

    Unwind your rotation before you sit back up.

    Modifications and Variations

    This pose can be done in different ways to meet your individual skill level.

    Need a Modification?

    You can take basically the same stretch in a cross-legged position if it is difficult for you to do the pose with one leg extended. To do so, lower your left shoulder toward your right knee. Your left hand can cross your body and take ​hold of your right knee. Lift your right arm and lean to the left.

    You can use a prop such as a blanket under your hips to help keep your spine straight.

    Up for a Challenge?

    Grab your the left big toe with your left fingers in a yogi toe lock if you can easily reach your foot.

    The raised right hand can also come all the way over your head to grip the left foot, but make sure that action does not compromise your twist. It's more important to keep your chest opening toward the ceiling than to grab your toes. If you have ​hold of the right toes with the right hand, use that traction to deepen your twist.

    Instead of tucking your right foot into your inner thigh, bring it under your thigh. It will end up behind your body with the top of your foot on the floor. If you can do this comfortably, reach your left hand under your butt and take hold of your right heel. Then reach your right hand for your left heel.

    Safety and Precautions

    You should avoid this pose if you have a hamstring injury or herniated disc. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if it is appropriate if you have an injury to your hips, back, shoulder, or knee. Avoid this pose when you have diarrhea.

    Try It Out

    Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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