Alignment Basics: Standing Head to Knee

Alignment Basics: Standing Head to Knee

Alignment Basics: Standing Head to Knee
By Kellie Mathes


Standing Head to knee strengthens the legs, glutes, abdominal muscles, back and arms. Practicing this pose also improves flexibility in the hamstrings, back and shoulders. In addition, when the final phase of Standing Head to Knee is achieved, Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock) is activated, which massages the thyroid and stimulates the body’s metabolism.

Level 1:
In a standing position, create Tadasana in your body: Place your feet on 12 o’clock. Press the big toe mound of each foot into the ground. Pull your leg muscles to the bones. Lift the front hip pointers toward the low belly and pull the shoulders back and around the spine. Stretch your fingers wide. Maintain Tadasana and shift the weight into the left leg. Lift the right thigh level to the earth and position the right foot directly under the knee. Spread the toes of and flex the right foot.

Level 2:
Take a deep breath in and lengthen the spine. Pull the low belly toward the spine, engaging Uddiyana Bandha. Round the upper body over the right thigh, and while maintaining a level position with your thigh, interlace your fingers at the ball mound of the foot. Look forward.

*Pro tip:
Lift the right toes up toward the knee to ensure there is no weight pressing into the hands. If weight is pressing into the hands, the low back will strain.

Level 3:
If the standing leg is straight, kick the right heel forward. Level the entire right leg to the earth and pull the shoulders back around the spine.

Level 4:
If both legs are straight, pull the elbows down toward the earth and squeeze the elbows into the calf. If the elbows reach the calf or go below, tuck the chin in toward the throat and press the forehead into the knee while maintaining two straight legs.

*Pro tip:
When both legs are straight, hug the thigh muscles in toward the bones, squeezing the muscles toward the hip sockets. Soften the backs of both knees. Extend the kicking heel forward and pull the toes toward the knee. When it is time to guide the forehead to the knee, walk the eye gaze from directly forward to down and toward the earth, landing the gaze at the big toe of the standing leg. Deepen the pose by working the connection of forehead to knee toward hairline to knee. Hold each level for 3-5 long inhale/ exhale cycles.

Upcoming Workshops & Events
July 8th: Rooftop Yoga & Brunch at 1818 Chophouse, O’Fallon, IL
Fall 2018: Yoga Teacher Training


Kellie Mathes is a Tier 2 Baptiste and Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher (E-RYT200, RYT 500, YACEP) and founder of Go Yoga! Express and Go Yoga! Express Belleville. She teaches yoga classes and workshops, leads yoga teacher training programs and provides continuing education for yoga teachers. For more information and to view the studios’ schedules, visit, call 618-416-5199 or email

Swansea Location
216-5 Frank Scott Parkway East
Swansea, IL 62226

Belleville Location
7645 Magna Drive
Belleville, IL 62223