“Contrary to the title, the head doesn’t touch the knee,” says Lori Whitby of Slave Lake Smiling Dog Yoga. “Begin seated on your mat, legs out in front of you. Lengthen your spine and sit on a folded blanket or thin yoga block to help you sit tall and straight.”
Whitby adds, “Bend your right knee, and place the foot on inner left thigh. Line up your torso with the left thigh. Keeping the spine tall and long (no rounding the back) gently press the heart forward as you hinge from the hips. Lengthen forward until you feel a comfortable stretch along the back of the left leg.”
Whitby says be sure not to pull yourself forcefully into the forward bend. If you feel a stretch in the low back, sit up, straighten the spine and start over.
“For the most benefit, as you move deeper into the pose, belly should touch the thighs first, and if the body will allow it, the chest reaches the knees and the head comes to the shin last, if at all,” she says. “You can place your hands on your thigh, shin or reach for the toes of the left leg. Relax the shoulders, neck and face and stay in the pose for three to eight breaths. Come up with an inhalation and repeat the instructions with the legs reversed for the same length of time.”
Modifications and props:
If you can’t comfortably reach the extended-leg foot, bend the knee, place a rolled up blanket under it or use a strap around the ball of the foot.
Calms the mind, stretches hamstrings, and groins.