Standing Head to Knee: Why It’s a Big Deal & Why It’s Not

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Standing Head to Knee. I can hear you sigh right now. Just from seeing those four letters strung together. It’s the posture you love. It’s the posture you hate. It’s kind of EVERYTHING and nothing all at once.

This posture is kind of big deal.

I have heard three people - three in the last couple of days - say that if they hit this posture and were able to hold on to it consistently they will then know that big changes happened and they have healed some part of themselves they truly desire to heal.

And, please know that three people is a ton of people when you don’t teach a Bikram Yoga class anymore. My classes reach way beyond twenty-six postures and we add new variations of postures into the mix each week to keep it fresh and fun.

But, I still teach this posture and for good reason. It’s a super tough posture. And, it’s one of the best tools out there to teach you about your Self.

Standing Head to Knee is what I call a trifecta posture.

It requires balance, strength, and flexibility. Most postures require all three, don’t get me wrong, but not in the way this one requires them.

The desired outcome of this posture is to create the longest line across your back line of the body, from the standing leg foot to the top of your head. That in and of itself is a feat for most humans, and requires that there be an easiness through the low back, hips and shoulders, as well, as a mighty network of core muscles.

Also, the whole balancing on one leg thing is super tricky even on your best day. The nuances of contracting your quadricep and also insisting that the glutes help out is one that takes many yogis over a decade to grasp. Or, to grasp, then totally not understand at all, to understand it better years down the line… as was my journey.

It’s an everything posture. And, cool looking, to boot.

Which is why so many yogis have it on their: I Would Like to Accomplish This List.  And, though I love this posture, as we’ve been friends for a long time now and have gotten to know each other quite well through the years, I want to take the pressure off of it this week.

Yes, it’s an awesome goal posture. But, is it fun? Does it bring you joy? Or, will it bring you joy only when you finally get your damn head to your knee? Or, maybe learn to let go of the foot after that? Because if that’s your truth, you’re never going to get there. You have to love the posture before you can do it.

That’s a big truth bomb for your practice and your life. You have to live in joyful anticipation of what’s to come.

So, if it’s a joyless posture we need to change your mind about it. And, I know it’s joyless for so many of you. I hear your sighs right before you pick your foot up and grab it. I see your jaw tighten in determination. I see you beat yourself up mentally when you fall out of it at that same place you always do, once again.

Instead, let me offer you this. Maybe Standing Head to Knee is just a fun adventure posture. Because you never really know what you’re going to get. Even the best yogis in the world will tell you that. It’s never the same from day to day.

So, maybe as you wiped your hands and lifted your foot you could think, “Whee, this is fun! I have no idea if this is the day I go a little further with this one.” Maybe, just maybe, you instead smile in delight instead of sigh in exasperation. Or, when you fall out, you laugh it off because every time you do the posture you learn a little more about You? Wouldn’t that be a better way to approach it?

I think so. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “you should smile through your whole practice” type of teacher. If you want to grouse your way through each posture, go ahead and grouse. But, you might have more fun if you actually admitted that you loved yoga – every single posture – and that, though it’s hard work, there can be joy there.

Because whether you can accomplish Standing Head to Knee or not, you’re still an awesome person. Being able to do the posture doesn’t make you better or worse than the person next to you. It just makes you more knowledgeable about You – the most important person in your life. And, that’s what a yoga practice is all about: falling in love with everything you are and finding joy on your journey.


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Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.

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