Yoga is a great form of exercise, not only for your body, but also for your mind. And it doesn’t matter if you want to lose or gain weight, the fact is that you will get the most benefit from yoga if you are in good physical condition. So, it’s important to know the right yoga poses to help prevent knee injuries.
The knees are a very important part of the body. They protect the body and allow you to move in all directions. But they are not just for walking. Our knees bend to reach a desk, sit on a chair, or bend over to tie our shoes. If they are not healthy, then everything will be affected.
The knee, the largest and most complex joint in the human body, is designed to glide smoothly along a path in the thighbone (femur) called the trochlear groove.
But because the kneecap is a floating joint held in place by connective tissue and cartilage, it tends to slip out of the groove. Tight hips and weak inner thighs also contribute to making the knee particularly vulnerable to injury and chronic discomfort during yoga practice.
Practicing asanas to strengthen the inner quadriceps muscles, align the leg joints and stretch the outer thighs will ensure that you don’t feel weakness in your knees, both on and off the yoga mat.
If you’re new to practicing yoga asanas or returning to the mat after an injury, it’s a good idea to gradually strengthen your body with regular, daily movements. To strengthen your inner quadriceps muscles and feel strong around that vulnerable knee, sign up for a free 30-day yoga challenge. You will be guided through common poses and learn how to hold a pose so you don’t hurt your knees.
Below are five simple variations of some common yoga poses that optimize the physiological function of your knees so you can stay standing, walk upright, and practice yoga without pain.
1. Mountain pose: Block party
The mountain pose or tadasana is the basis for many standing poses. However, this posture often exacerbates the stiff-knee posture, which turns the hip bones inward and overloads the outer thighs (tight IT bands, anyone?), weakening the inner thighs.
Strategic use of the block can help you align your knees just below your hips, stretch your hamstrings and strengthen the weak muscles in your quadriceps group.
- Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart.
- Stretch a block above the knees, between the middle and upper thighs, to strengthen the vastus medialis (quadriceps muscle).
- Keep a straight spine without excessive rounding of the lumbar spine.
- You can also try this technique in Utkatasana and/or Uttanasana to get the same benefits.
2. Chairman’s position: Reaching the hotspot
The chair pose or utkatasana often puts unnecessary pressure on the knees because the joint is hyperextended.
However, a tight and/or weak lower back and underused glutes and hamstrings limit the stability needed to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle, and you compensate by sending them well past your toes into the danger zone.
If this angle seems difficult, try using a wall to distribute your body weight evenly across your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Together, these muscles act as shock absorbers, protecting your knees from overloading and collapsing under pressure.
As with the mountain pose, make sure you don’t bend your knees to the midline.
- Lean against the wall in a chair pose.
- Keep your upper body upright and try to put a little more weight on your heels to better activate your back leg muscles.
- Avoid sitting too low.
- This 90 degree angle and foot position can also be seen in Warrior Stance I, II and Side Angle Stance.
3. Position of the extended triangle: Unlocking and charging
The stretched triangle or Uttitha Trikonasana frees the knee and exercises the muscles! While some students experience a strained posture when performing this pose due to a lack of flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings, many students are too flexible in the knees – this hypermobility can lead to joint tension and injury.
You can find balance by performing a micro-flexion of the anterior knee to relieve lower back pain and allow your hamstrings to work deeper.
4. Heroic Belly Pose: Back to track
Supta Virasana to the rescue!
This variation of the Hero pose can do wonders for knees that are out of alignment due to overuse of the outside of the thighs, lots of running, or the habit of crossing legs at the office. And the divine stretch of the quadriceps and hip flexors here is second to none!
Keeping your shins and buttocks on the ground takes time and a certain flexibility that not everyone can achieve. The use of accessories makes it possible and fun! This is the safest configuration:
- Make a T-rail with two supports, one for the spine and one for the headrest.
- From the hero position, place folded blankets under your thighs, making sure your toes point straight back, not to the side.
- Lean back in this wonderfully soothing and healing pose!
5. Half lotus: Hip not resting
Many knee injuries occur in postures that require external rotation of the hip. Lotus, Dove and Ardha Padmasana require movement not only of the hip rotators but also of the lower back to find the forward tilt of the pelvis.
The knee seems to lock up when you put more weight on it than is safe. It can’t be ignored. Consider the following tips to proceed with caution.
- Begin the Fire Boat Pose by placing your shins parallel to the top of the mat.
- Keep your back straight and place your hands on the ground behind your back.
- Bend the foot of the thigh to avoid saddling the ankle, which can cause a knee dislocation.
- Gradually lean forward and/or bring your foot closer to the hip crease as you become comfortable in this position.
- Repeat the procedure with the second leg.
While yoga offers powerful and effective movements to strengthen and stabilize your knees, there is no substitute for vigilance and patience. Pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t, and if you have any doubts, ask your yoga teacher for advice.
Your knees don’t slow down to tell you if you’ve gone too far, and the painful consequences aren’t worth committing to a posture that might not work for you. I hope this article reminds you that you have many options and you don’t have to suffer for your practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What yoga poses are good for knees?
There are many yoga poses that are good for knees. Some of the poses include: Downward-facing dog pose Warrior II pose Crescent lunge pose Seated forward fold pose Seated twist pose Downward-facing dog pose: This pose is good for stretching the hamstrings and the calves. Warrior II pose: This pose is good for stretching the quadriceps, glutes, and calves. Crescent lunge pose: This pose stretches the quadriceps, glutes, and calves. Seated forward fold pose: This poses stretches the hamstrings and quads. Seated twist pose: This pose stretches the hamstrings, quads, and calves.
What are the 5 asanas?
The 5 asanas are:
- Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
- Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
- Dandasana (Staff Pose)
- Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
- Shashankasana (Child’s Pose)