Foot Behind Head Yoga Pose
overview

Foot Behind Head Yoga Pose is a seated yoga pose that targets the hamstrings and hips and is ideal for yogis and yoginis at an advanced level.

muladhara – the root chakra
ajna – the third eye chakra
related poses
How To Do Foot Behind Head Yoga Pose
  1. Begin in Staff Pose (Dandasana). Bend the right knee and rotate it away from the body to face the wall. Using your hands, lift your lower leg and place the ankle and lower shin on your left thigh. Keep your left leg strong and active and your abdomen tight. Take a few breaths in this position, keeping your spine long and straight.
  2. Avoid curving your spine as you bend slightly at the hip joint; place your right hand under your right knee and your left hand under your right ankle, then lift your leg up to your chest, knee still pointing out to the right. Hold your leg here for a few breaths to open up the muscles.
  3. Bring both hands under your right ankle and lift your foot up to your face. Do not lean forward or bend the spine as you do this. If you are unable to bring the arch of your foot to your nose without leaning into the foot, hold the foot in position as close as you can to the face. Practice up to this step until your flexibility increases.
  4. If you can bring your foot to your face, continue to bring the right leg back while keeping the knee pointed out to the side. Bringing your right shoulder forward, lift your right foot to rest on the shoulder and gently press against the ear.
  5. To work the foot further behind your head, rotate your head forward and down and bring the foot just behind the neck before completing your neck rotation. When you are facing up and forward again, lift the right shoulder up and forward, then push it back into the right leg. Pressing your right elbow into your right thigh, pull your right foot further back with the help of your left hand. Keep your abs strong throughout this step, ribs lifted.
  6. Continue to move your right foot with your left hand as far as you can across the back, pushing your shoulder blades into your right leg. When you feel that your leg is stabilized in this position, release your left hand from your right foot and drop your head back gently to rest your neck on your shin.
  7. Bring the hands to prayer pose (Anjali Mudra), either closing your eyes, gazing up at the ceiling or gazing directly in front of you. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths. To come out, use your hands to bring your leg in front of the chest, leaning forward slightly as you do so. Come back to rest in Staff Pose. Repeat with the other leg.
Notes
  • Breathe deeply through each step.
  • This is an advanced yoga pose. Do not attempt if you are inexperienced with yoga, or if you lack flexibility in the hips and legs. If you’re attempting this pose for the first time, do so with a trainer or partner present.
  • While this pose is a great hip opener, open hips are also a prerequisite for performing this pose. Practice other hip-opening exercises before attempting this one.
  • Avoid this pose if you have inflexible or tight hamstrings, which may lead to injury.
  • Do not attempt if you have a knee, ankle, back or neck injury. If you experience any pain or stress in these areas, even if not injured, stop performing the pose. If you notice you are stressing these areas to overcompensate for tight thighs and hips (IE straining your neck to bring your head through the legs as opposed to bringing your legs over the head), stop performing the pose. Practice other hamstring stretches and hip openers to rectify this problem.
Tips

To deepen the pose, lean forward and over your extended left leg after Step 7. As you do this, keep your shoulders pressing up and into the lifted leg. Hold this position for 3-5 breaths before returning to the position in Step 7, then finish the pose.

Stretches & Strengthens

All Muscles: Hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, spine

Target Muscles: Hamstrings, hip flexors

Health Benefits of Foot Behind Head Yoga Pose
  • May relieve stress and fatigue.
  • Relaxes the mind.
  • Opens the hips.

Sanskrit Name & Meaning

Sanskrit Name & Meaning

Eka Pada Sirsasana

(eh-KAH pa-dah shear-shAHS-anna)

eka: single, one
pada: foot
sirsa: head, skull, top
asana: posture

History & Mythology

History & Mythology

There’s gotta be some history or mythology on this pose! We’ve looked high and low and have only come up with this message. Perhaps you have some information or resource for us to explore?