You may not believe it but Janu is not about stretching the hamstrings, no, not even calf muscles. Janu is about the kidneys, the liver and the spleen, it’s just that most people’s hamstrings are so tight that’s where they feel it first. The noise of the hamstrings drowns out the connection elsewhere.
To access the kidney area it’s all in the hips. The angle of the bent knee thigh to the long leg is more than 900, if hip mobility allows. The idea is the bent knee side hip is moving back while the ribs move forward away from the hip. This actually requires a little twist of the torso and stretches the Quadratus Lumborum, the muscle that sits over the kidneys.
The bent knee foot is ‘supposed’ to sit tucked close to the perineum. This is fine if the hips are open enough and the knees are healthy. If neither of those is available then modifications like less flexion in the knee, placing the foot further down the long leg or just further away from it work well. As long as you can still feel the length through the kidney area then you are still getting the benefits of the pose.
As for the long leg, the cue is often ‘back of the knee to the ground’. This is a bad idea for people who have hyper mobile knees, they will actually push the joint past extension trying to get that ground contact. Better to suggest/think back of the thigh to the ground or pull the knee cap a little towards the body. The leg stays long without locking out the knee or hyper extending. We want length through the whole back of the body, this accesses the Bladder meridian further enhancing the benefits of the pose for the kidneys.
Janu is a therapeutic pose, meant to stimulate healthy organ function, the hamstring lengthening is a bonus. If we approach it mindfully then we can access the full range of benefits.
Lattisimus Dorsi if arms are actively reaching forward
|Abdominals if activated to help forward fold
|Superficial Back Line|
|Chakra||Traditional Meridian||Emotional Connection|
|Bladder Line||Peace and hope