When people turn to yoga, they are looking to gain something positive in their life. So, gaining an injury doesn’t belong to this part.
In this article, I will talk a bit more about protecting your knees to make sure that you won’t get injured during your life as a yogi.
And on top of that, I’m going to throw a couple of asanas in there as well to strengthen your knee muscles. Just for free!
How Do I Get An Injury With Yoga?
To answer a question with a question: Have you seen how much crazy yoga poses there are?! But you’re not here for the short answer, so let’s have a look at some other explanations:
#1 Not Warmed Up Enough
Most good teachers know how to make a great yoga sequence where chances are slim of getting an injury. They know that you need to warm up the muscles at the beginning of the practice before you do the crazy stuff.
In a yoga class with a certified teacher, it’s going to be a bit harder to strain some muscles. At home though, if you don’t know what you are doing, this will be a bigger risk.
One thing you need to know as an at-home yogi is that you really need to warm up before you do things like inversions or other amazing poses like bird of paradise for example.
#2 Overdoing It
This tip contains two parts.
The first part is about the length of time you do your yoga practice. If you aren’t a well-trained sporter, your body just isn’t fit (yet) to go into a yoga practice that will last for hours.
And the second part, yoga isn’t about pain. The moment you feel you are going too deep into an asana, you should step back a little. Don’t overstretch because you want to do the pose just like your fellow yogi is doing.
How to know when you’ve overstretched? Well, if you feel a lot of pain, not just a little nagging one, you’ve gone too far. Yoga is about stretching yes, so a slight pull in the muscle is alright.
#3 Following The Example Of Others
One thing you should never ever do, not in any sports, is following the example of the other. If you feel you are not ready to go deeper, if deep down in your guts you know that a certain pose goes too deep for you, DON’T DO IT.
Even if your teacher tells you that she feels the space to go a bit deeper. You can just say no.
Especially in yoga, you are invited to take the road inwards, rather than looking at others and being competitive. Stick to your own intuition and your body will be grateful!
Protecting The Knee During Yoga
During your yoga practice there are a couple of easy things you can do to protect your knee. These tricks are really easy to incorporate into your practice, so let’s have a look:
#1 Bend The Knee
This one is probably the simplest one of them all. Bend the knee while you are in a pose. I’ve talked about this briefly in my article about yoga for overweight people. But I’ll give some more explanation about it in this article here.
While you are in standing yoga poses, it’s always good to bend the knee just a little. This tiny little movement you’ve just done is going to relieve your knee a lot.
Not that you won’t get the same benefit, you’ll even get more out of it.
By doing this movement, the little subtle knick in the knee will make sure that you won’t be hanging in your ligaments and the IT band. Relieving that stress on your knee, you’ll be working more on your muscles. Making them stronger.
#2 Don’t Cross the Heel
Whenever in a pose like warrior or lounge, I see a lot of students putting their knee right over the toes. This itself puts a major stress on your knee.
You will have to do it in some poses, but you have to do them in such a way that that stretch is rather on the back leg than the front leg.
That said, you will be able to protect your knee if you put it in one straight line with your heel. This already will make sure that the angle of your knee doesn’t go lower than a 45° angle and therefore protecting your ligaments and bands.
#3 Engage The Leg
Gees, this one is going to be a bit hard to explain, so I hope I’ll be able to manage it. If at any time you don’t feel that you understand it, please feel free to reach out and leave a comment down below!
Engaging all the muscles in the knee will make sure that you won’t be able to hang in your ligaments. How to do this? Well, while in a pose, again, like the warriors, you have to push your knee outwards.
Oh no, not just that, you’ll also have to make an outward rotation with your knee. This while you are pushing it a little bit out as well.
if you feel it in your quads, then you know you are doing the right thing.
Yoga Poses for the Knee
The next asanas will make sure that you will train the muscles around the knee as a preventive measure. They will also do when you already have an injury, but caution is the main key.
#1 Forward Fold with Raised Leg
This one is a great option to make forward fold a bit more intense. Or for some people, it might be really intense. Considering how well-trained your muscles are going to be ;).
To go into Forward Fold you can check out more information in this article about yoga for your spine.
When you are into a forward fold, raise one of your legs to the side until it is at a 90° angle with your other leg. Keep the knee bend, with your foot more or less near your hip.
After that, raise and lower your knee. When you are doing this you should feel your IT band and quadriceps engaging, and you should feel a burning sensation in your upper leg.
If you can’t make any sense of this explanation, don’t worry, here are some pictures for those who are more visually oriented.
And don’t forget to do the other side as well, to make sure that you train your muscles evenly :).
#2 Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Alright, this name is quite long and I’ve actually never heard a yoga teacher mentioning it before explaining it, including me.
But don’t worry though, even though it has quite a long name, it isn’t that hard to perform.
For this pose, it might be good to use a strap. It’s not necessary, but it will facilitate you to hold the pose a bit longer.
And because we are talking about the knee, we will actually be talking about a different option that has the most benefit for your muscles.
For this asana you need to lay down on your back with straight legs.
After that, raise one of your legs, straightened. If you want you can put a strap right underneath your toes to keep the strap secure.
You can stay in this position if you are comfortable. But if you’d like to have the benefits for your knee, start to tilt the leg over your opposite hip. You’re not going into a twist, so make sure that your hips and shoulders stay on your mat.
You might not be able to tilt it very much, but that’s alright, you just need that stretch.
Here as well, don’t forget to do both sides to keep everything balanced. You wouldn’t want oversized muscles on one leg and absolutely none on the other.
#3 Chair Pose
The last one is quite known and you might have done it before already. Chair pose. Which is really what it says it is, you’re going to be seated on an imaginary chair.
For this asana, you start in a standing position. Feet more or less together, hands to your side.
On an inhale, raise your arms and lower your buttocks a little. Really, like you’re going to sit on a chair.
Your knees will bend, and you’ll stay in this position for a while.
In this asana, you’ll be putting your knees right above your toes. And if you’ve read the beginning of the article, you know that I don’t advise doing this. However, in this position, because you are using both legs, stress on the knees is minimized.
Alright, that’s it for now about your knees. If you need more guidance, don’t forget that I’m offering Online Private Yoga Classes to work on whatever area that you’d like.
And if you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ll get a code for an extra 15% discount on whatever package you choose.