Intro: Head-to-knee pose targets the muscles on the back of your leg, including the calves and hamstrings, as well as the lower back. It is a great pose for working on the flexibility of the aforementioned muscles, and is generally done at the end of a workout or after your muscles are warmed up.
Technique: From a seated position, press the sole of your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Flex the toes in your right foot, and press the heel away from you. With a big inhale, extend your arms over your shoulders as high as possible, turn your chest so that it is in line with your right leg, and then reach your hands in the direction of your feet as far as possible. If you can touch your foot, interlace your fingers around the ball of your foot. If they do not touch, bend your right knee as much as you need to so that you can interlace your fingers around the ball of the right foot. If you still can’t reach, just try and grab your ankle or lower calf.
After you have this grip on the bottom of your foot, start to pull your sternum in the direction of your toes; don’t just try and touch your forehead to your knee initially. This will change the focus of the stretch so that your lower back will be involved as well. Make sure that you continue to have an active right leg, meaning that your heel is pressing away from you, the toes are flexed toward you, and your quadriceps are engaged.
Throughout the process of reaching your sternum toward your toes, keep your chest in contact with your upper thigh. You want to eliminate the space between your thigh and chest to get the deepest possible stretch. Once you have reached your sternum as close to your foot as possible, allow your forehead to relax on your leg, essentially folding your upper body onto your leg.
Modification: If you lack hamstring flexibility and cannot interlace your fingers around the ball of your foot with a straight leg, bend the knee. It doesn’t matter how much you bend your knee, the important thing is that you grab your foot. Flexibility comes with time and effort.
For some extra difficulty, try and fold your upper body over your leg without wrapping your fingers around your foot. This requires you to utilize your core and hamstring strength and is a good way to give this restorative/stretchy pose a different purpose.
Tips: This takes a LOT of flexibility and is not something that you will be able to do your first time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get too far.