Whether you have to put your yoga practice on hold, or if you are an athlete who competes and you have to miss playing time, it is the one of the most frustrating problems you can face.
The knees will take a lot of punishment, especially if you are extremely tight. The tighter your IT-bands (the outer seam of the leg, between the hip and knee) are, the more you will be prone to knee injuries. In this video, we will traction the knee by bending and straightening the leg while being vigilant about maintaining optimal alignment. Then we will go through hip, IT-band and thigh openers to help eliminate pressure on the knee.
Primarily, the way you align your feet governs the health of your knees. It all starts with foundation and engaging your feet in a way that fires your shin muscles and protects the knee joints.
Step your feet hips-width. Make sure your feet are pointing straight forward i.e. if you were to draw a line from your second toe-mound straight back, it would intersect the center of your heel. Bend your knees deeply and make sure the center of your kneecap aligns over your second toe-mound. This is healthy knee alignment, be exact about this for therapeutic benefits. Set your upper thighs back and down. Reach your arms up and straight in front of you. Soften your front ribs, tone your belly and keep your chin parallel with the floor.
Dynamic Lunge: Lowering The Back Knee
From lunge, square your hips and shoulders to the front of your mat. Watch and make sure your knee is pointing straight over your front foot, and do not let the knee bend beyond your ankle as you exhale and lower your back knee to hover off the floor, and then inhale to straighten the back leg completely while lifting from the back inner-thigh. Move slowly with your breath.
Dynamic Lunge 2: Straightening The Front Leg
From lunge, inhale while you straighten your front leg completely. Then exhale while you bend your front knee over your ankle. Again, as you flow and traction the knee-cap over the second toe, make sure you maintain that alignment as you move through this dynamic flow.
Figure Four Chair
Right side: From downhill skier shift weight into your left foot and hook the right outer ankle across your left thigh. Make sure you flex your right foot. If the foot goes casual, it will turn into a knee or ankle opener rather than a hip opener. Press your left hand against the sole of your right foot and press your foot against your hand. Lift your right inner knee up and set your right upper thigh down and back to get a big opening in your right outer-hip.
In side angle, to protect the knee and build strength, keep the front foot straight forward and your front knee widening to the right. Do not let that front knee buckle in. This is key in all of the side plane standing poses where your front knee is bent like warrior two.
For therapeutic benefits in triangle, make sure your front foot is pointing straight forward and your front knee points the same direction as your foot. Straighten your legs completely as you lengthen your back and reach up through your top arm and look up.
In a wide stance facing the side edge of your mat, make sure your feet point straight forward and your feet are even with one another as you hinge from your hips and fold forward. As you bow, make sure you keep your weight even both in the heels as much as the fronts of your feet. Draw your feet towards one another until your legs are straight as you lengthen your back and bow.
Pigeon Thigh Stretch
Right side: From down dog, bring your right knee behind your right wrist towards the right edge of your mat. Angle your right shin across your mat, point your right foot and flick your right toes against the mat. This will protect your knee and bring the opening into your right hip (gluteus medius). Level your hips. Set your right inner-thigh back and your right outer-hip back. Reach your right hand back for the left outer-edge of your foot. Once you have your foot, lengthen both sides of your torso long. Twist your chest open and set your throat back and right head of your arm-bone back. Keep the weight even on your back thigh as you pull your left foot towards your left outer hip. Drag your back knee forward to lift your left upper thigh towards your heel.
Thread the Needle
Right side: Lie on your back. Bend both knees so that your ankles are right under your hips and your feet are hips-width apart. Hook your right outer ankle across your left thigh. Flex your right foot. Reach your hands for the left shin by lifting your left leg and threading your right arm between your legs to hold the shin. Pump your right knee forward and your right inner thigh back while keeping your right foot flexed.