The fifth posture in in the Bikram series is Standing Head to Knee – Dandayamana-Janushirasana, and is the first of the balancing series. Remember that locked out knee? While in this posture, the body benefits from compression of the gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and ladies receive benefit to the uterus and ovaries. Once the compression ends, freshly oxygenated blood rushes to these internal organs and delivers a boost.
And this is a really long posture to hold on a locked out knee. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to master the engaged thigh and lamppost leg. As we’re told in class, if your knee isn’t locked the posture hasn’t started. So to begin, work diligently on locking the knee. Once you really have that part, then work on the leg extension.
With the standing leg locked, bend your other knee and bring your leg up first. Only then should you reach down and around to grab the foot with both hands, using your thumbs with the grip. By bringing the leg up to meet your hands, rather than bending down to reach your foot, you will more evenly distribute your weight and maybe hold your balance!
Once your foot is in your hands, extend it out in front of you. When BOTH knees are locked (and staying locked!) only then should you bring your elbows down to the sides and eventually your head to your knee. And if no one’s reminded you…lock the knee. According to studio owner Chelsea, “Bikram says there would be no war in the world if more people concentrated on locking the knee! There would be no time for anything else!”
This posture helps you to develop your singular focus, patience and determination. It encourages the marriage between your body and mind while it tightens the abdominal and thigh muscles. If you have sciatic nerve pain, this posture also improves the sciatic nerve’s flexibility. And your deltoids, tendons, trapezius, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, scapulae, biceps and triceps are all benefiting from the strength training you’re doing while holding the posture.
No matter how far into the posture you get, remember that each stage is important. There is benefit no matter where you stay in the pose. And it’s such a long pose, there is plenty of time to fall out and get right back in. Keep trying!
Posted by Liz Alfano