Eka Pada Sirsasana, or Leg Behind Head Pose, is an advanced hip opener that requires flexibility, stability, and strength to achieve. While this pose may seem challenging, you can work your way up with preparatory poses that increase flexibility in your spine, hips, and legs.
Read on to learn the steps that will prepare you to safely and efficiently build up to the Leg Behind Head Pose.
Unless you’re naturally flexible to an exceptional degree, you’ll need to build up to Eka Pada Sirsasana with a few preparatory poses. These poses will help you develop the strength, balance, and correct alignment necessary to do this pose safely.
Depending on your body, you may need to consistently do these poses over the course of a few days, weeks, or months.
Always warm up your body for 5 to 10 minutes before moving into the following exercises. Keep in mind that your body is likely to be more open and flexible later in the day as opposed to early morning. Consider this when deciding which time of day to practice.
Remember, too, that your body can vary in flexibility daily.
Seated Forward Bend
This classic seated pose can prepare your body for forward-bending action by opening up your hips and back. Before dropping fully into the pose, move halfway down and then raise to the starting position. Do this a few times so you can feel the hinging action of your hips.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
This wide-legged forward bend loosens up your hips, lower back, and legs. To move deeper into this pose, sit on a cushion or block to allow your pelvis to tilt forward. Engage your core, keep your spine straight, and tuck your chin into your chest.
This pose externally rotates and flexes your hips and stretches your glutes. Focus on opening up along your front hip and thigh. To release deep tension, hold this pose for up to 5 minutes on each side. For support, place a cushion under your front knee or your hip on this side.
This inversion gets your spine and legs supple while building strength in your shoulders and neck. Place a folded blanket or flat cushion under your shoulders for extra padding.
This is an advanced inversion that requires a lot of core strength. If you can’t do the full pose, do preparatory actions by bringing your weight onto your forearms with your hips in the air. Slowly walk your feet toward your face to bring your hips in line with your shoulders. Engage your core muscles here and lift up one foot at a time.
Following the preparatory poses, here are some next-step poses to get you ready for the Leg Behind Head Pose. Again, it’s fine if you can’t do these poses perfectly. Have fun doing these poses to the best of your ability.
Leg Cradle Pose
Sit on the edge of a cushion or block to tilt your hips forward and support the position of your spine. If you can’t reach your arms around your leg, simply place your elbows under your calf with your palms facing toward you. Work on drawing your leg up and in toward your body. For a slightly different stretch, do this pose lying on your back.
Keep your spine extended during this pose, which opens your hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. Press your bottom shoulder into your leg to prevent it from collapsing forward.
A strong and flexible back and upper body will help you to achieve this pose. Breathe deeply and keep your spine and neck extended.
If you’ve worked through all of the preparatory poses and still have the energy to go further, you can move into the Leg Behind Head Pose now.
Try turning your head to the side to make it easier to get your foot around the curve of your head. Engage your core to keep your spine lengthened.
Eka Pada Sirsasana brings many benefits to your body by loosening up your hips, back, and hamstrings. This brings a feeling of ease and openness to your body and can lower your heart rate while boosting circulation. You may experience an enhanced sense of well-being as you reduce stress levels and eliminate toxins.
Try to maintain a playful attitude while developing the discipline and dedication that it takes to achieve this pose. These positive qualities may then naturally extend to other areas of your life.
Even if you’re not able to do the full expression of this pose, you can experience the benefits of the preparation poses. These poses will open up your hips, develop spinal flexibility, and strengthen your core.
Most people will be able to attempt some expression of Eka Pada Sirsasana, even if they aren’t able to do the full pose, as long as they listen to their body and don’t push beyond their limits.
If you have neck, back, or hip concerns, talk to your healthcare provider before attempting this pose. Never force yourself into any position or extend beyond your physical limits. Ensure your breath is smooth and relaxed throughout your practice. You should feel at ease both physically and mentally.
Remember that to a certain degree, the way the pose looks isn’t as important as how it feels. To the observer, it may look like you’re not going that deep into the pose, but if you’re going to a comfortable degree of sensation in your body, then you’re receiving benefits in each pose.
If you are to compare at all, compare yourself to where you were yesterday and where you aim to be.
Eka Pada Sirsasana has many benefits and is a fun pose to add to your practice, though it may not be attainable for everyone.
Practice safely and work within the limits of your body. Give yourself time and remember that results are gradual. Even if you can’t do the full pose, you can enjoy some of the preparatory poses.
Speak to your doctor if you have any medical concerns that advanced yoga poses may impact. If you wish to go deeper with challenging poses, consider booking a few one-on-one yoga sessions with your favorite yoga teacher. Or get together with a friend and go through the poses together.