I love yoga.
And I do not discriminate. I love it all. So, if I had to consider only one style of yoga and pick my favorite part about it, it would be quite difficult for me. But considering I teach HOT Yoga and my blog here is called a Yoga HOT SPOT, I will pick my favorite thing about certain poses in this tradition of Hatha Yoga (the physical practice of yoga poses) known simply as Hot Yoga. By the way, you can read this post to learn more about this wonderful lineage and the evolution of Hot Yoga.
Okay, one thing stands out for sure (other than the torrid conditions – that’s just too obvious) and sets Hot Yoga apart from other classes for me. This is the emphasis on the forehead to knee connection … and I just love it (surprise, surprise). This is not to say that this position doesn’t make an appearance in other yoga styles. Of course, it does. In fact, the chin to chest action that happens when your forehead touches your knee is known as jalandhara bhanda, or throat lock, and janushirsasana, head to knee pose, is not unique to Hot Yoga. However, it is the emphasis on the forehead (not nose, not chin) touching the knee (not shin, not thigh) that really stands out. When this forehead to knee contact is made, the front side of your body contracts and the back side of your body stretches, creating a rounded, and emphatically so, position of the spine. Learn about the benefits of this rounded spine position here.
–If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knee as much as you need to in order to touch the forehead to the knee (not your shin for crying out loud!).
–If your hamstrings are not tight …. just shut the heck up, won’t you? Just kidding, if your hamstrings allow you to fully extend your legs in other poses but when your forehead is touching your knee, you just can seem to go anywhere, try lifting the pelvic floor in (a LOT) and also drawing the navel in and up. This will help lengthen the lower back and create more rounding. You might notice your forehead sliding up higher on the knee and you’ll be able to straighten the leg a little more.
–If it just kills your knee to have that foot at the inner thigh of the other leg, you can position the extended leg directly in front of you (rather than 45 degrees out) and place the other foot underneath the straight leg thigh.
–Relax your shoulders. Even with the chin to the chest in what is called a “throat lock,” let your shoulders come away from your ears. Shrugged shoulders create a lot of unnecessary tension, leak energy you could otherwise use and limit mobility and the desired rounded spine position.
–Find it difficult to breathe? Well, if you are used to breathing shallow and only in the chest you will probably feel a little claustrophobic in this position. Try breathing as if your lungs are on your back and as if your are trying to stretch your back muscles (which you are) with the breath.
Again, you can read about the many reasons why MY FOREHEAD LOVES MY KNEES so much by checking out this post here. And if you have any additional questions, please post them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!