Seated Foot-Behind-The-Head Pose   - Eka Pada Sirsasana

Contents

Seated Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose or Eka Pada Sirsasana in Sanskrit (eka, meaning “one,” pada, meaning “foot,” sirsa, meaning “head,” and asana, meaning “pose.”), 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!
Seated 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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Begin by sitting comfortably in Staff Pose (Dandasana), extending your legs straight in front of you.
Step 2
Bend your right knee slightly and place the sole of your right foot on the floor, next to your left knee.
Step 3
Lower your right knee to the right side of the floor, allowing your hip to open up.
Step 4
The movement and rotation of the hip are crucial for setting up the final position.
Step 5
Reach out and hold onto your right foot's ankle, bringing your right shin closer to your chest as if embracing it.
Step 6
Ensure that your right ankle remains parallel to your other ankle throughout the pose.
Step 7
Using your left hand, grasp your right ankle firmly.
Step 8
Now, gradually lift and draw your right knee toward your shoulder. Position your right ankle behind your neck and left shoulder.
Step 9
As your leg touches the neck region, you can lean forward slightly to maintain the pose for a few seconds.
Step 10
Keep your other leg straight in front of you, ensuring that your sit bones are firmly grounded. Your right shoulder moves forward while your right leg extends backward over the top of the shoulder.
Step 11
Once you feel your right foot is securely tucked behind your neck, bring both hands to your chest and join them in a prayer pose (Namaste gesture). Ensure your hands touch your chest.
Step 12
You have now reached the final position. Hold the pose for five to six breaths.
Step 13
Lower your hands, use your left hand to grab your right toe, and slowly unfold your right leg, lowering it down.
Step 14
Repeat the same sequence with your other leg.

Benefits and Contraindications

Benefits

Increases blood flow and circulation, especially to the back of the body

Strengthens the back, neck and shoulders

Relieves tightness in the groin and hamstrings

Stimulates the abdominal organs, relieving digestive problems

Contraindications

Hip, knee, neck or back injuries

Sciatica

Modifications and Props for Beginners

  • Use a folded blanket: Place a folded blanket under your hips to elevate them and provide support. This can make it easier to fold forward and bring your head towards your knee.
  • Bend your knee: If you’re having trouble straightening your leg, you can bend the knee of the extended leg to make the pose more accessible. You can also use a strap around your foot to help you straighten your leg.
  • Use a wall: If balance is a challenge, you can use a wall for support. Stand facing the wall and place your extended leg against the wall. This will help you maintain your balance and focus on the stretch in your hamstring.

Useful Tips

  • The first thing to observe by you is that the main focus should be on the breath and make it slow and steady .
  • It might be a bit challenging for you to do the pose as it requires lots of flexibility, but once you have practiced and are able to do one-leg-behind-head-pose, then the focus should shift to breathing. You should try hard to do this pose and always try to relax in Eka Pada Sirsasana.
  • Remember to listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Eka Pada Sirsasana suitable for beginners?

Eka Pada Sirsasana is an advanced pose that requires a high level of strength, flexibility, and balance, and may not be suitable for beginners. It’s important to work up to the pose gradually with the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.

Are there any precautions I should take before attempting Eka Pada Sirsasana?

Eka Pada Sirsasana is an advanced pose that should be approached with caution. If you have any injuries or medical conditions, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting the pose. You should also avoid the pose if you have high blood pressure or any neck or shoulder issues.

How long should I hold Eka Pada Sirsasana?

You can start by holding Eka Pada Sirsasana for a few breaths and gradually work up to holding the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks as needed.

Variations

  • Compass Pose
  • Reclined Foot-Behind-The-Head Pose
  • Standing Foot Behind the Head Forward Bend
  • Foot Behind the Head II (Forward Bend)
  • Moon Bird
  • Yogic Sleep Pose 
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Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings. After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva. To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics. Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga. At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.