Yoga can be a great form of physical activity for those of us with knee pain or injury.
In this article, we will be looking at the best yoga exercises and poses in the following categories:
- Yoga for arthritis
- Yoga for the elderly
- Yoga for knees and hips
- Yin yoga for knees
Although it is a prominent injury suffered by those who are active and participate in physical activity such as yoga, there are some exercises and poses that can help with strengthening your knee and the muscles that surround it.
Some specific yoga poses for knee pain have been outlined for you below.
Best Yoga for Knee Pain
Yoga for Knee Pain Arthritis
1. Extended Leg Balance
Stand in the upright position and slowly shift your weight onto one leg, but you can use a chair for support if necessary.
When you feel comfortable, you can lift one leg and hold the outside of your knee. You will place the other hand on your hip or you may extend it overhead.
Now the leg can be brought out to the side, ensuring that the hip does not lift. You must also keep the other hip aligned with your knee and ankle. This can not be done by leaning on your supporting foot.
To increase the intensity you can take out the other arm and turn your head the other way.
2. Side Angle Pose
Your feet should be about 4 feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees, angle the left foot out
With feet about 4 ft. apart, turn the right foot out 90 degrees and bend the right knee keeping it directly over the toes. Keep the left foot at 45 degrees.
Bring your right elbow towards the bent right knee and allow the left arm to extend alongside the left ear. You should form a continuous diagonal line from the back left foot to the extended left arm. Look past the extended fingers.
The hips and shoulders should be in one plane as if laying against the wall and you should lift your lower shoulder out of the supporting elbow.
Begin by laying down with the tops of your feet resting on the floor. Palms must be flat on the floor next to your chest, keep your elbows close to your body.
Your head, chest, and neck should be then lifted off the floor and look forward, keeping your legs down. You will feel your upper back muscles engage, you should avoid using your arms. To test, lift your arms off the floor and keep the pose.
If you want to increase the intensity, interlace your fingers behind your back and draw your shoulder blades together.
Yoga for Knee Pain in Old Age
4. Seated Stick Pose
Sitting in a sturdy chair and your arms raised straight above your head, extend your right knee, lifting your right calf so it is parallel to the ground. Flex your right foot and flew through your heel, tightening your quadriceps.
Hold this position for one or two breaths and then switch sides. Repeat three times for each side.
5. Seated Warrior I
Sitting on a sturdy chair, step your right foot out to the right and the left foot on a slight angle. Relax the left knee inwards toward the chair and place hands on your hips.
Turn your torso slowly to the right raising your arms up from your shoulders. With palms facing each other, press your shoulders down to relax them. For proper alignment, look forward and up slightly.
Repeat once on the other side.
6. Spinal Twist with Knee Variation
For an advanced seated twist, cross the knees over the ankles before you begin. Cross the left leg over the right and twist to the right, this will protect the lower spine from compressing too much.
For higher intensity, you can cross at the knees as long as it does not cause discomfort.
Yoga for Knees and Hips
7. Banana pose (Bananasana)
This pose opens the hip and relieves tension from the pelvis, allows the hip flexors to gently stretch, and encourages deeper breathing. You can further relax your muscles and your mind, which can cause a mental relief of knee pain too.
Bring the body into a banana-like shape, by stretching both legs and upper body to one side of your mat. For a deeper stretch, you can opt to cross the ankles and clasp the wrists. Once you are settled in this pose release the wrists and relax here for five minutes.
repeat on the opposite side.
8. Mountain Pose and Chair Pose (Tadasana and Utkatasana)
The following two poses are familiar poses in the practice but are also great yoga for painful knees which you may not have been aware of. With a few variations, they bring awareness to your knee pain for yoga.
In Mountain Pose, focus your attention on the alignment and activation of your leg muscles. In Chair Pose you will want to make sure your knees are stacked over your shins and your weight is back on your heels.
The above steps are important to turn on the proper muscles ad avoid the common mistakes of compromising the knees.
For both Mountain and Chair Poses you will want to make sure that your feet are hip-width apart and you can also place a block between your upper thighs for additional support. Without a block, you can imitate squeezing a block between your thighs.
You will feel your inner thighs, quadriceps, and hamstrings in a deep stretch for both poses.
Hold Mountian Pose, or Tadasana, for five breaths and when you transition into Chair Pose, or Utkatasana, hold for another five breaths.
Repeat 3-5 times and keep your thighs squeezing inwards, whether you have a block between them or not.
9. Warrior I and Warrior II (Virabhadrasana 1 and 2)
The Warrior Poses can build strength and alignment when you are experiencing knee pain. they strengthen the inner quadriceps muscles, which counteract the pull of the outer quadriceps.
This is especially beneficial to keep the kneecaps strongly secured. The inner quadriceps are often underutilized, which means that you need to perform exercises to strengthen these particular muscles.
Come into Warrior I as normal, bend your front leg at a 90-degree angle with your weight centered on your heel. Keep your inner heel and big toe grounded while lifting the inner arch of the foot.
Try and keep the outer ankle, knee, and hip of the bent leg in alignment with the other which is stretched back out behind you. Do not drop the outer hip down as you lift the inner arch, knee, and thigh up.
For Warrior II turn your front foot toward the front of the room and look forward, taking your arms from above your head out to the sides.
Hold each of the poses for ten breaths and repeat on the other side.
Yin yoga for knees
10. Melting Heart Pose
Start in the tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your hips in line with your knees and walk your hands forward, bringing your chest to the floor.
Continue walking your hands out until your forehead touches the floor. Extend your arms all the way forward and keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
Hold this position for 2 minutes before slowly walking your hands back up underneath you and finishing in the tabletop pose.
11. Wide-knee Child’s Pose With Twist
Begin in tabletop position. Bring your knees out wide and your big toes touching together. Set your hips back onto your heels and walk your hands out in front of you. Lower your chest down onto the mat. Bring your forehead down to rest on the mat.
Stay in this position for 1 minute to settle into it. Keep your hips back on your heels and thread your right arm underneath your left hand to twist.
Your right shoulder and temple should be resting on the mat. Roll onto the right shoulder to feel the stretch on the right shoulder blade.
Pick up your left arm, bending your elbow, and wrap it around the lower back. Hold here for 2 minutes.
Place your left hand back down on the mat to unwind and come back to the wide-knee child’s pose and hold here for a few breaths.
Switch sides, hold for 2 minutes, and then return to the wide-knee child’s pose for a few breaths to finish.
12. Sleeping Swan
For this again you will begin in the tabletop position, slowly picking up your right leg and drawing the right knee forward. Your right knee should be lined up behind your right wrist.
Your shin should be across the top of the mat but does not need to be parallel. flex your toes back towards your shin, this will protect the knee joint. Square your hips forward and sit tall. Take three slow breathes in this position.
Here you should feel a stretch in your hip. If you feel any pain in your knee at all then move back to the tabletop position.
After the 3 breaths, you can either keep your chest upright or lower your chest toward the ground to feel a deeper stretch in your hip.
Walk your hands forward and lower your forearms, your chest, and forehead too if you want to increase the intensity. Hold here for 2 minutes.
Walk your hands up and lift your chest, pressing into your palms and lift your right leg back. return to tabletop position and switch sides.
13. Toe Squat
Start in the tabletop position with your toes tucked underneath. Walk your hands back towards your legs and lower your hip slowly onto your heels. The weight should be on the balls of your feet, not your toes.
Sit upright with your chest and reach down to ensure that your pinkie toes are tucked under. Your hands should be placed on your thighs, engage your lower belly, and focus on your breathing. Hold this position for 2 minutes.
Then walk your hands back out to the tabletop position, untuck your toes, and paddle out the tops of your feet to the mat.
Common Knee Injuries in Yoga
The knee joints undergo a lot of pressure during physical activity, especially during yoga classes. any of us feel discomfort, tension, or pain in our knees during or following a class.
There are two main causes of this, either tight hips or preexisting injuries that you have sustained. Yoga can lead to meniscus tears, a 2012 study found, which is why you should always keep your knee over your ankle during lunging postures.
When your knee is bent you should always track over your second middle toe. Your knee should never cave inwards and you should think about rolling your thigh and butt underneath you. This will bring your knee toward your pinkie toe side of your foot.
When your knee is straight you should keep a slight bend in the joint. You do not want to lock your knee out as this can be very bad for the joint.