Yoga ways to ‘happy knees’!

Suffering from pain in your knees? Feeling old and cranky? Along with consuming natural supplements (and augmenting your diet with larger quantities of essential-fat-and-silica-rich foods) to take the strain off of your muscles and joints, there are  movements you can perform on a daily basis that will alleviate pressure in and around your knees. Try this following routine outlined below, and review how your knees feel in just a few weeks of regular practice! Make sure you are always comfortable in the poses; do not force anything, and come out of the pose if you feel any discomfort. Remember to breathe coming into the pose, breathe while holding the pose, and breathe while releasing out of the posture. Knees symbolize ‘direction’ in life, so by following these fairly simple movements every day, it will give you both happy knees and a better sense of where you’re heading!


Kneecap contraction
With yoga it’s a muscular practice – we lift out of our joints with our muscles, rather than ‘sitting’ in them. So lets do this with your kneecaps.
Start with your legs together straight out in front of you, hands lightly placed down by your sit bones, your spine is upright with your shoulders back. Mindfully contract the muscles surrounding your right knee, drawing the kneecap back towards your thigh. Hold for 3-5 seconds as you inhale, and release on your exhale. Repeat 5 times before repeating for the same amount of time on your left side. Now contract surrounding muscles on both legs together. Repeat 5 times before relaxing to a neutral position. You can shake your legs out if you need a further release. 
 
Knee crank
Come into a straight-legged starting position. Start to bend the right leg from the knee and your left leg should remain straight during the entire practice. As you bend the elbows, interlock your fingers of both hands. Now place the interlocked palms below the thighs. If possible encircle the thighs closely at the chest level. Now concentrating on the right toe, carry the lower knee part at the face level. Then rotate the lower knee part in circular motion while breathing deeply and naturally. Maintain a straight spine and the chin tucked into your throat during the entire time. Initially set a small level circle, which should be gradually increased. Keep your attention on the right big toe so that you could watch while rotating it. At first rotate clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Repeat this 10 times and do the same with your left leg. Never apply any pressure on your knees. Stay focussed on your inhale during the upward movement and your exhale during any downward movement. Release back to your starting posture when completed.
 
Knee bending
Start with your legs together out in front. Start to bend your right knee and lift the foot away from the floor. Interlock your fingers underneath your thigh and hold it up to your chest, keeping the heel into your thigh. Now start to straighten your leg with your elbows in close by your side and then with your leg still straight, lightly draw your leg away from you, until your arms also straighten. Your spine should remain upright and tall, with your neck long. Inhale deeply and slowly as you straighten your legs. Do not allow the heel or toes to touch the floor. The thighs should get back to the chest level when you exhale out. Keep the left leg straight and practice this 10 times on each side. Stay aware of your natural deep breathing, and apply more thigh pressure on your abdomen when you exhale out – carry your thighs close to the chest on every inhale. Come back to a straight-legged position once you’ve finished.
 
Half Butterfly
As you open up your hips, this will also take pressure away from your knee joints. Begin in your base position, legs together out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring your right leg on top of your left thigh (as high up as possible). See if you can bring your right heel to touch your waist side. Put the palm of your right hand on the thigh and grasp your right toe firmly with your left hand. Keep your spine elongated and chin tucked into your throat. Hold the left leg straight with the heel touching the floor. Keep your inner leg muscles relaxed. Inhale deeply and effortlessly, pressing the knee towards the floor. Now exhale deeply but slowly, raise the knee up to the breast. Avoid forward bending. This is the first cycle of the practice. Repeat 20 times on each leg. To release you can shake your legs out in front of you and continue to the full pose. 
 
Full butterfly
This pose stretches your inner thighs, groin, and knees. Keep the spinal column upright and your chin tucked into your throat, keeping your neck long. Breathe natural and easy. Bend both the knees. Bring the soles of the feet together and place them up to the crotch area. Grasp firmly both feet with your hands. Do not allow the heel to be raised. Keep the torso above waist including the neck straight. Place the elbows on the thighs. Inhale deep and press both the thighs downward with the elbows effortlessly. Remove your hands from feet and try to raise the knees without any support; exhale breath. Practice this in the beginning with rhythmic and natural breathing, if possible. Initially attempt this for 20-30 times. Get back to the primary position after the practice. Closing your eyes, remain focused on the hip joints and the waist zone, keeping your inner thighs relaxed.
 
Savasana
Lay flat for approx 5-10 minutes in your ‘corpse’ pose. Place a cushion under your knees if you have any lower back pain. Allow your legs to roll outward and your palms to face upward. Cover your eyes as you remain completely quiet. Feel your whole body sink and drop effortlessly into the core of the earth. It’s one of the most important poses to let you body absorb the practice you’ve just completed. After savasana, roll to your right side and up into a cross-legged sitting position. Join your hands together at your chest, and bow your head softly down. Give yourself a moment of feeling gratitude and love, and go about your day with happier knees! Namaste, Charlotte x
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