Our knees are an amazing mechanism that helps us move, perform routine activities and, of course, do yoga for example https://www.julianalucky.com/post/9-ways-to-practice-mindfulness-with-kids. They are considered the largest joints in the human body and are made up of bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Due to such a complex structure, they, like nothing else in our body, are susceptible to injury, so it is very important to pay special attention to them during yoga practice.
In standing balance asanas, the knees help us to keep the body in a stable position. Usually, to maintain balance, it is recommended to either stretch the knee intensively or pull the kneecap inward. This method rarely causes any pain at first, but in the long term it can lead to pain, swelling and even arthritis.
The good news is that we can keep our knees safe while doing yoga. They do so much for us, now it’s our turn!
1) Develop awareness towards your body.
In standing balance asanas, we often need to keep our body on one leg, which sometimes causes a lot of tension in the supporting knee.
In order not to harm, you need to feel your body well and know its natural positions and movements in various poses.
The scanning method will come to our rescue: take the Tree Pose and walk your attention through your body from head to toe, noticing which muscles are tense and which are relaxed. Try not to deliberately stretch or squeeze the knee, just watch the processes occurring in the body and specifically in the area of the knee joints.
2) Do not block the arch of the foot.
Pinching the knee is a common mistake in yoga practice and can lead to serious injury. The principle of balance asanas is to give the body a stable position by straining the muscles of the legs. However, many strive to take the easier path to achieve balance by pulling in and tucking in the kneecap, which transfers all the tension from the leg muscles to the defenseless joint.
Instead of using your knee, try to activate your leg muscles more, allowing them to stretch and strengthen your body and maintain balance. Raise your straight right leg up and to the side, making a grip with the fingers of the same hand by the big toe. Make sure that your toes, toes, and the heel of your left foot are firmly pressed against the mat, but do not prevent the arch of your foot from lifting freely from the floor.
Indeed, a fully flattened foot makes our body more stable, but this most often causes a pinch in the knee. Therefore, do not try to lower the arch of the foot to the floor, but activate its surface. In this way, you will protect your knee, starting from the very bottom – our feet.
3) Use your leg muscles.
Tighten your leg muscles to protect your knees. By contracting, they bring the body into a stable position and become stronger with regular practice. In Warrior Pose III, use the quadriceps to tuck in the kneecap, but at the same time avoid pinching it. Press your toes into the mat without blocking the arch of your foot and tighten your lower leg muscles. This will help you maintain your position and not hurt your knees.
4) Make sure your knees and toes point in the same direction.
You can interact with a healthy knee in the following ways:
– pull out;
– move it back and forth and from side to side when bending.
Other unnecessary movement can negatively affect the knee tendons. The best prevention is to keep your knees and toes in the same direction. For example, when doing Natarajasana, try to concentrate not on the back bend, but on the same direction of your knees and toes.
5) Use the tools at hand to test yourself.
It is always difficult at first to overcome habits built up over the years, so feel free to use additional tools. For example, stand against a wall and go into Crescent Pose, lightly touching the wall with the back of your body. Use a yoga brick to reach the floor. Let the wall support you, and at this time listen to the sensations in the body, concentrate on the position of the knees. Move away from the wall gradually while maintaining balance.
Our unique knees are used in most yoga poses. By taking preliminary steps to protect them, we will keep them healthy, thereby deepening our yoga practice. When performing asanas, use the muscles of the legs, do not press the arch of the foot against the mat, keep the knees and toes in the same direction, and do not hesitate to use the available means at first, when it is necessary to feel the pose and the muscles involved in it. Stick to these five principles, and your knees will definitely thank you.