How to Do Eka Pada Sirsasana

Also known as Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose, Eka Pada Sirsasana is an advanced yoga pose that requires a certain combination of flexibility and strength. Just one glance at the pose, and it’s clear that it’s no easy feat, physically.

Eka Pada Sirsasana requires mental perseverance and patience to get your leg behind your skull.

Be sure to warm up your body, especially the hips, hamstrings, and core. Remember that this is an advanced asana. Listen to your body, and don’t force the pose.

Eka Pada Sirsasana can be practiced the Ashtanga way, with a series of poses leading a yogi into the pose. However, Foot-Behind-the-Head-Pose can also be practiced outside of a full Ashtanga practice– one method of entering the pose is broken down below.


Eka Pada Sirsasana is a great stretch for the hip, hamstrings, and glutes. The foot behind the head may seem to be a pose that challenges flexibility. However, it actually requires strength in order to keep the calf/foot tucked behind the neck.

The posture is particularly effective at toning the core area, as the torso must be kept upright to avoid the chest collapsing due to the natural pulling of the raised leg. The pushing and pulling of the neck and leg can stretch the back.

Step-by-Step instructions

Sit up straight with your legs straight out in front.

Bring the sole of your right foot in line with your left knee.

Open the hip by lowering the right leg to the ground on the right (it should resemble Janu Sisasana or a seated tree pose). The external rotation of your hips is crucial for the final alignment.

Grab the ankle on the right foot, and then hug the shin of the right leg inwards towards your chest. The ankle and knee should be aligned.

Start by bringing the right leg slightly to the right side with the left hand so that the right shoulder can eventually fit under.

Before you begin to move the right arm towards the inside of the leg, make sure that both the sit bones and hips are planted firmly. The right shoulder moves forward, and the right leg moves further back on top of the shoulder.

Then, place the foot behind your head. The left hand should still be holding the ankle and work the right leg down the upper back. This will relieve the pressure on the neck.

Find the softness of the hips, and then release your grip so that the hands touch the heart’s center.

Hold for five breaths. You can either fold your chin forward to stretch further, or you can continue the pose by tucking the chin forward and using the same grip.

Eka Pada Sirsasana – Variations

Start building flexibility by holding some of the Eka Pada Sirsasana preparatory poses (see Steps 4, 5, and 6) to begin the posture. Hugging the shin towards the chest (Step 4) is basically the same concept as the foot behind the head pose and will gradually open the hips and hamstrings.

Steps 5 and 6 will teach you how to get your leg over your shoulders like a bag. Try practicing externally active hip exercises, such as Figure 4, half Happy Baby, and Fire Log.


This pose is advanced and should be done with care. Eka Pada Sirsasana, an extreme Hip Opener pose, can cause strain if the alignment is not correct. If you have knee, hip, or neck problems, proceed with caution.

It is important to take some time to counterpose after performing Eka Pada Sirsasana due to its intensity. Backbending poses like a Wheel or Bridge (spinal extension) will counteract the flexion of Eka Pada Sirsasana.

After spending some time with your feet behind the head, simple supine spine twists can be very rejuvenating and refreshing.

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