Ready for a peak pose challenge? Try Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose!
Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose (Eka Pada Sirsasana) is one of those quintessential advanced yoga poses that everyone thinks of when they think of yoga! This pose can certainly seem intimidating – and with good reason, as it requires some pretty extreme flexibility in the hips and legs. However, as you progress in your practice, this is a good “peak pose” to aspire to and work towards!
Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose offers an extreme stretch for the hamstrings, hips, glutes, and psoas muscles, and also strengthens the core, back, shoulders, and neck.
Please make sure you are fully warmed up before attempting this pose! Focus especially on warming up the hips, hamstrings, and core. Take care to listen to your body, be patient with yourself, and don’t force anything.
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This pose is for advanced yoga students only. If you have any injuries to the hips, knees, neck, or back, you should avoid this pose.
How to Do Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose:
- Sit upright with both legs extended straight in front of you.
- Bend the right knee, bringing the sole of the right foot to the ground in line with the left knee.
- Then lower the right knee down to ground to the right, opening the hip (it should look like Janu Sirsasana prep or a seated Tree Pose). This external rotation of the hip is key for setting up the alignment of the final pose.
- Next, grab the ankle of the right foot and hug the right shin in towards the chest. The knee and ankle should be in line with one another.
- With the left hand grasping the right ankle, start to draw the right knee slightly out to the right-side to provide room for the right shoulder to eventually fit underneath.
- Ensure that both sit bones are firmly planted and the hips are even before beginning to work the right arm to the inside of the right leg. The right shoulder then moves forward and the right leg moves farther back on top of the shoulder.
- Finally, tuck the foot behind the head. Use the left hand (still gripping the ankle) to work the right calf down the upper back (to relieve pressure on the neck).
- Find softness in the hips and release the grip bringing the hands to touch at heart center.
- Hold for 5 breaths. Then either fold forward for a further stretch, or tuck the chin and use the same hand grip placement to release out of the pose.
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