Yoga for the knees

Recently someone asked me, what Yoga postures are good for the knees? There a quite a few poses that help build strength in the knees. Before you embark on the practice, you should know what your aim is – whether to build strength or for restorative purposes. For restorative or rehab purposes, it is best to first go with the advise of your doctor or therapist and then seek out a Yoga teacher, share that info and he/she can assist you with what is best. If you are looking at building strength in the knees, then you can do the following:

– Standing Squat: Here you stand straight first with arms extended in front on up. Then you try to ‘sit on your knees’, just lowering you back enough so that you can hold the posture for a period of 40-60 seconds. As you stand squat, focus on relaxing the leg muscles. Your thighs will obviously get tight, but try to ease them by breathing well and calmly. Make sure you back out of the posture if you feel any
discomfort. Start with holding for any length of time you can and slowly increase the duration. Make sure you don’t bend too much forward.

– Hero variation with the front knee bent: In this variation of the Hero posture, the front leg is bent at the knees. This will put pressure on the knees, strengthening it. The lower you get your thighs (as parallel to the mat as possible), the harder it is.

– Seated Squat: With legs slightly over hip-width apart, squat down while opening the hips a bit; this will push out your knees. You might not be able to squat all the way down right away, so lean forward and rest your hands on the mat and lower your back just enough until your feel the knees being used.

– Any standing posture is good as it utilizes the knees.

– The other part of keeping the knees healthy is to keep using it. Any asana that causes movement in the knees is good for this cause. The Sun Salutation and variations (Half- and Intermediate-) come to my mind right away.

– Seated postures such as Lotus or Half-Lotus also use the knees developing flexibility in the joints.

– Lastly don’t forget to relax the knees after any posture session; Corpse or Shavasan is excellent way to help the knees recover.

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