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3 Yoga Drills to Improve Your Standing Head to Knee Pose

Jan 24, 2022

Standing Head to Knee. I can hear you sigh right now. Just from seeking 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. 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. 

So, this week I’m going to offer you three drills that will help you get better at Standing Head to Knee. These drills will help even if you’re someone that feels like they have this posture, no problem.

Because the thing is, this posture never ends. There’s always a next step and one after that. So, if you’ve been getting your head to knee for a good long while now, are able to hold it for however long you want… it’s time to let go of the foot and stay in the posture. Wowza.

And, these yoga drills will help with that. They only take a few minutes to do, too. So, they’re great to do if you’re warmed up and ready to work on something, or after you've taken class.

You'll find a video of these three drills at the top of the page.

The first drill is all about strengthening your balancing leg. This is a great one to do if you have not mastered getting your knee over your ankle and your hip over your knee or if your instructor warns you of hyperextension. It’s also a great one for those of you that still cannot straighten the leg. Hold it for 8 to 10 breaths and build from there.

The second drill is all about understanding where you are in the posture when you take the balancing aspect out of the picture. Step one is to get the head to the knee with hands on the wall. Then move hands to hips. From there, work the bind behind the back. Stay here for at least 30 seconds and build to 1 minute. 

The third drill I have for you today is to work the strength of kicking leg. You will feel quite a cramp in your quad if your core is not as engaged as it could be. So, be good to yourself and notice if your abdominal wall is helping you or not involved yet. And, if you can’t get your head to your knee, tuck your chin to your chest and round down to where you can hold it. Do not push yourself into anything that pinches, just be where you are. Three kicks on each leg ought to do it.

I hope this helps you move further with this posture. Because I know you want to achieve it someday. And, sometimes doing a little extra work to build into aside from practicing it in class helps.

Happy practicing!



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