Due to the sudden drops in temperature where I live, my right knee has been acting like a real drama queen lately, so I've been looking for ways to protect your knees during yoga as I didn't want to give up my workouts. The way I skillfully manage to fall down every couple of months without any reason - and injure the same joint every single time - may not seem so fascinating to you. However, I'm sure there are many of you with sensible joints who are interested in ways to protect your knees during yoga. So, here are my findings.
When beginning any pose, pay attention to your foundation first. Start at the bottom and build up. Make sure the 4 corners of your feet are evenly and firmly connected into the mat. This will help you to reach the proper alignment of your feet, which is one of the essential ways to protect your knees during yoga. Proper alignment will build strength in all ligaments evenly, allowing your kneecap to glide up and down effortlessly and protecting your cartilage.
Yes, you got that right. In many yoga poses, if your hip joints aren't open, your knees will be the ones to take the stress. At the beginning of your practice, warm up with some hip openers such as Cow Face Pose or Bound Angle Pose. Never attempt poses that are hard on your knees - such as the Lotus - without a proper warm-up.
Another one of the ways to protect your knees during yoga is to avoid flexing them too far back, as this puts too much strain on your ligaments. The hyperextension of the knees can often happen in some poses that imply keeping your legs straight, such as Seated Forward Bend or Triangle Pose. If you're prone to hyperextension, it would be best to keep a slight bend in your knees during such poses and make sure you distribute your weight evenly.
When it comes to seated poses, nothing makes my wimpy knee happier than a bunch of props. Use a yoga block or a blanket to raise your seat in Hero Pose or similar asanas, place a rolled-up washcloth into the knee pit when in Child's pose, and so on - you don't need much to make things a bit easier for your knees.
- And only that. Listen to your body and pay great attention to the most subtle signals it's sending your way. Your knees are not that great at giving feedback, so don't wait until they hurt, as you might realize you've already gone too far. If you feel any slight discomfort in your knee, you might want to change your position.
Balancing poses are very beneficial in so many ways, as they protect your knees from future injuries by strengthening your muscles and training proper alignment. The best ones you should consider are those that require a bent standing leg.
I know, all of us would love to see ourselves rocking difficult poses, and this can often tempt us to rush into things our body is not ready for - which is the "best" recipe for knee injury (and not only). Remember that yoga is about feeling good and finding where you are, not about pushing yourself too far.
I found the tips above to be quite helpful for my situation, and my crybaby knee is surely thankful. Do you know of other good ways to protect your knees in yoga?
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