Many people are turning to yoga as a way to heal and strengthen their body. Yoga helps us tune in, and listen to the subtle messages our bodies are trying to send to us. But often, we allow the ego to take the lead, and the wisdom of our body takes a back seat. This is where we open ourselves to the possibility of injury. Nowhere do I see this at work more than with the knee joint. Let’s look at the structure of the knee joint and consider the impact that yoga can have on either hurting, or healing this important body part.
Knees are made for stability, more than for mobility. The knee is a hinge joint, much like the hinge on a door. There is very little rotation or lateral movement at this junction. Deep inside the knees are the cruciate ligaments that allow the knee to bend yet prevent the femur from sliding off the Tibia. These can be easily damaged or torn by sudden twisting movements and are difficult to heal because of limited blood flow to the ligaments. The medial and lateral menisci are fibrous pads of cartilage that cushion and facilitate the smooth gliding movement of the Femur over the Flexing the knee even a little bit sideways can cause damage to these pads as can a variety of sports. Students with stiff hips who force their legs into Padamasana (Lotus Pose) or Eka Pada Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) can easily cause permanent damage to the menisci and this damage may never heal. There are modifications and props that students can, and should use to prevent Here are some suggestions to help keep your knees happy in yoga practice:
1) In kneeling postures a folded mat or blanket may be used under your knees for comfort.
2) Warm up with postures that work to loosen the hips before moving into poses that place additional stress on knees. Hip circles, and externally rotated poses like Baddha Kosanana.
3) Place a block under the buttocks in Virasana (Hero Pose) to prevent extreme knee flexion.