Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series asana, Jānu Śīrṣāsana A

Today we explore Jānu Śīrṣāsana A (Head and Knee Pose ) from the Ashtanga Yoga primary series, or Yoga Chiktsa.  In Ashtanga Yoga, you start the practice with Sun Salutations and then move through the standing sequence.  Once you finish the final standing sequence posture, warrior two, you take a vinyasa to the seated postures.  One of the seated posture you find in Ashtanga’s first series is Janu Sirsasana A.  It is a posture that requires mobility in the hip and ankle and can be challenging for some students to take the first time they explore this pose.

Janu Sirsasana A

This is my all time favorite posture in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series sequence!  Indeed, it feels so good to take on your own or get an adjustment in.  You achieve a wonderful stretch in your hamstring, your back, hips and side body.  Markedly, you also begin learning how to incorporate concepts of tensegrity in more subtle ways.  As a result, this helps you ground your body as you begin to hinge forward in the posture.

In today’s video we will explore three variations of this asana.  In doing so you have ample modification to help you work your way to the full expression.  Each variation helps you go deeper without rounding your lower back.  They also ensure you don’t over stretch your hamstrings or lose active engagement.  Don’t feel you need to rush to the full expression by forcing yourself to fold when your body is yearning for more opening.  And do savior the five breaths you take in Janu Sirsasana A.  This posture is food for your body, and food for your soul.  Indeed, try to be contemplative when you take this pose.  Work to connect with your breathing and bandhas.  Know that the more you take the posture, the more comfortable you’ll become with it.

The Angles of the Janu Sirsasana Postures

I mention angles in today’s video and that will make more sense as we explore Janu Sirsasana B and C in upcoming videos.  In Janu Sirsasana A, we seek a 90 degree angle from your knee.  Consequently, we are to bring our toes to touch our opposite inner thigh.  This ensure we don’t press the entire foot into the opposite thigh.  By using this angle, you are taking the posture correctly.  In turn this gives you a delicious and safe stretch of your entire side body and Latissimus Dorsi.  In Janu Sirsasana B, we will take a slightly smaller angle, around 60 degrees. Comparatively, in Janu Sirsasna C we aspire to create a 45 degree angle.  More to come on that in future tutorials!

Each tutorial video is here to help you go a little deeper in your understanding of the body mechanics of the movements, and your own body in space.

Krista Shirley

I am a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher.  I am passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

If you want to join me in person I teach daily classes in Winter Park, Florida. I also offer virtual sessions in Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship.  Check out for more details.

If you do not live in Central Florida and want to find an authorized teacher in your area, check out my teacher Sharath Jois’ website.  There you will find a list of all teachers authorized and certified by his yoga centre in India.

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If you are new to this channel or this yoga asana series, I invite you to check out the other videos from this yoga series.


The Foundation – Breathing, Bandhas, Drishti and Sun Salutation A

Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga Finishing Sequence

PRACTICE YOGA WITH KRISTA: Sun Salutation A & Modified Finishing Sequence

Sun Salutation B

PRACTICE Sun Salutation A & B and modified Finishing Sequence with Krista Shirley 

How to Hold Your Spine in Space 

Padangusthasana and Pada Hastasana 

Utthita Trikoṇāsana and Parivr̥tta Trikoṇāsana 

Utthita Pārśva Koṇāsana and Parivr̥tta Pārśva Koṇāsana

GUIDED PRACTICE: Sun Salutation A & B through Utthita Pārśva Koṇāsana and Parivr̥tta Pārśva Koṇāsana with Modified Finishing Sequence

Standing Postures – Prasārita Pādottānāsana A-D


 GUIDED PRACTICE: Sun Salutation A & B through Prasarita Padottanasana A-D with Modified Finishing Sequence

Standing Postures – Parsvottanasana

Balancing Postures – Utthita Hasta Padāṅguṣṭhāsana

Balancing Postures – Ardha Baddha Padmottānāsana

PRACTICE: Sun Salutation A & B through Ardha Baddha Padmottānāsana with Modified Finishing Sequence

Standing Postures – Utkaṭāsana


PRACTICE: Sun Salutation A & B through Vīrabhadrāsana  with Modified Finishing Sequence


Daṇḍāsana and Paścimottānāsana

Pūrvottānāsana: Eastern Bend Stretch

Ardha Baddha Padma Paścimottānāsana

Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana

Start A Yoga Practice at Home

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