Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Yoga For Arthritis: Yoga Pose To Strengthen Knees
Whenever students have knee issues, especially the elderly, it is important for yoga teachers to understand that knee issues generally drive a fear in the student's mind. The fear of falling, not being able to walk again, having to use a support or walking awkwardly, fear of pain, costs involved in treatment or, worse, fear of surgery or no treatment being available.
This fear leads to further restriction of knee movement by the student which may further compound the problem due to worsening of muscle stiffness. It is important to understand that knee movement involves quadriceps, hamstrings and calves muscle groups. The imbalance in these muscle groups can have a direct impact on the movement of the knees leading to stiffness. The below yoga sequence for knees and arthritis is designed to help the student overcome the initial fear of flexing the knees and form stronger and active muscles around the knees. This yoga sequence with step-by-step instructions is for intermediate level students.
Note: The following yoga sequence is for educational purposes only and guidance from a medical practitioner and/or an expert yoga teacher is recommended.
Yoga For Arthritis In Knees: Yoga Poses To Strengthen Knees: Yoga Poses, Cues, Steps, and Breathing instructions
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A. Begin by being seated with legs stretched out in front of you as in a simple Dandasana Pose. Take about two breaths here and relax the entire body and bring the breath under control.
B. Bring the body by lying down on your left side supporting on left elbows and place the left side of your head on your left palm. Take a few breaths here and with a deep inhalation raise the right leg up and down in a rhythmic movement about six times by taking support by placing the right palm on the floor close to your chest.
C. After opening of the legs, now raise the leg high up and straight and hold the right toe with your right hand. If the pressure on the knee is too much, one could bend the knee and relax and stay with the stretch till one feels comfortable.
D. If stretching of the leg without bending the knee is comfortable, make sure you maintain the balance of the body on the sides of the hips and avoid falling backwards. Pull in the tummy to stay in balance.
E. The first few times shivering of the legs would be felt, this is normal and after repeated rounds one will gain better momentum. Remain here for about 6 breaths and with every exhalation stretch the leg deeper towards you.
A. After the stretch with the right leg, release the pose and relax the elbows and move onto your tummy in prone pose.
B. Take a few breaths here and then move the body towards the right side and balance the body on your right elbow and place the right side of the head on the inside of the right palm.
C. Begin to move the left leg up and down for six rounds and then raise the leg high up and bring it towards you by holding the left toe with your left hand.
D. Watch the stretch on your knees and be aware of the stretch along with the breath. Stay here with deep breathing for about 6 breaths.With every exhalation take the leg deeper towards you and feel the stretch at the knees, ankles, inner thighs and upper thighs.
A. Moving from Anantasana, bring the body back to prone or the belly and relax for a few breaths.
B. Then taking a deep breath bring the arms behind you and interlock those fingers with palms facing inside and stretch the shoulders and arms behind you as much as possible keeping the forehead on the floor and stay here for a few breaths.
C. Take another breath and as you exhale raise the upper body from the lower abdomen from the floor and as you tighten the lower body expand the arms behind you and stay in this Snake Pose for about 4 breaths.
D. Initially the breathing here may not happen smooth as the stretch at the chest and upper abdomen may not guide you to take conscious breaths, but this is normal and with practice the breathing too will happen with the pose. Pulling the arms deep behind you as you inhale will help you balance the body better.
E. This pose surely does not have an impact on the knees directly, but the strengthening of the muscles around the hip, hamstrings, calves gives the knee a better support thus removing any fear of direct impact on the knees.
F. Release the pose and loosen the entire body and come into Reverse Corpse Pose and relax. One could repeat this for two times depending on the capacity.
A. From the Snake Pose, let's go into Locust Pose working on the tightening of the hips and buttocks.
B. Keeping the arms stretched out behind you by bringing the shoulders stretched back take a few breaths here by keeping the forehead on the floor.
C. Take a deep inhalation and raise the lower part of the body from the thighs and the upper part of the body from the lower abdomen away from the floor and balance the entire body stretching both the extremes of the body on the pelvic and upper thighs.
D. Keeping the neck locked tight and up stretch the entire body and remain in the pose for about 4 breaths and bring the awareness of the body.
E. If this stretch is hard on the back, one could use a bolster or a blanket for support by placing it below the thighs and upper knees thus helping you go deeper in the pose.
F. Again there is no direct impact on the knee joint, but the stretch around the hamstring and back of the knees should do the trick in strengthening the knee joint.
G. Release the pose by exhaling and loosening the entire body and come into the Reverse Corpse Pose.
A. After relaxing in Reverse Corpse Pose, place the hands besides you and keep the chin on the floor and stay here for a few breaths.
B. Inhale and stretch the body keeping the feet together behind you stretched and as you exhale raise the entire legs from the lower abdomen to about 30 degrees from the floor upwards and place the weight on the shoulders, chest and the chin.
C. Stay here placing the chin on the floor and tighten the abdomen bringing the body deeper into the pose as you exhale. Tightness around the buttocks and the hamstrings need to be felt and the deeper you take the pose the tighter will the muscles get.
D. The breathing needs to be given importance here, else the pose will not give the required benefit and make it difficult to hold.
A. From the Reverse Corpse Pose, turn around and bring the body in supine and lie on your back and straighten the body and stay here for 2 breaths.
B. Raising the left leg up and bending it at the knee bring the knee close to your chest by clasping the fingers around the lower knee close to the shin of the left leg. Press the knee towards your chest and keep the right leg stretched out straight .
C. Remain here for 6 breaths and with every exhalation press the knee closer and closer to your chest and feel the stretch in the upper thighs close to the lower abdomen and feel the movement of the joints at the knee.
D. This awareness of the stretch at the joints along with breathing for about 6 breaths will give a great opening directly to the knee joint without putting pressure to the knee.
E. If there is stiffness felt at the knee, then before attempting this pose work on loosening the knee by holding the hands below the knee and by loosening the leg from the knee below kick the leg up and down and bring the knee cap into action. This small stretch should help you to get into the pose ultimately.
A. Release the left leg from Half Wind Release Pose and stretch the legs out completely.
B. With another inhalation bring the right leg up and bend the knee and as you exhale press the right knee close to the chest and clasp the hands around the leg close to the lower right knee at the right shin.
C. As you exhale bring the knee closer to your chest and repeat this for around 6 breaths and connect the breath with the stretch both at the knee and at the upper thighs.
D. To get a better stretch the pressing of the knee well is important.
E. The direct stretch on the knee in this pose works in opening the knee joint slowly without bringing too much impact on the knee.