Whether you’ve recently experienced a knee injury or you suffer chronic knee pain, yoga is a great option for low-impact exercise.
If you’re worried about yoga doing further damage to your knees, make sure you’re incorporating these four yoga poses into our daily practice.
Yoga Poses for Knee Pain
1. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
This pose strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves (all muscles that surround and stabilize the knees).
Start by standing with your feet and legs together. Lift the arms above your head, then bend your knees and sit back as though you were going to sit down on a chair.
Keep your chest lifted with your weight on your heels (you should be able to lift your toes off the ground). Make sure your back isn’t overly arched or rounded forward, as well — keep a natural curve in your spine.
2. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
Viparita Virabhadrasana, also known as Reverse Warrior or Peaceful Warrior, is another great lower body strengthener, specifically for the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Start by standing with your right foot forward, about three feet away from your left. Keep your right toes pointing straight ahead and turn your left toes so that the side of your left foot is parallel to the edge of your yoga mat.
Bend your right knee to form a 90-degree angle — don’t let your right knee extend beyond your toes and keep your kneecap pointing forward.
Lift your arms so they’re parallel to the floor and keep your hips facing the long edge of your mat. Turn your head so that you’re gazing over the right fingertips.
3. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
This strengthens the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings while also stretching the iliotibial (IT) band, the ligament that runs down the side of the leg from the hip to the shin. Many people, especially runners, experience knee pain when their IT band is tight or inflamed.
To do Bridge Pose properly, start by lying on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground shoulder-distance apart. Keep your knees in line with your feet.
Keeping your arms at your sides, squeeze the glutes and push into your heels to lift your glutes and lower back off the ground.
4. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
In this balancing pose, both your knees are bent, which protects them hyperextension while also strengthening the legs (specifically the inner thighs and calves) and the core.
Start in a standing position. Then, slowly bend the knees and lift the right leg to wrap it around the left. Wrap the thighs tightly so that, eventually, you can hook the rich foot around the left calf.
Extend your arms, then cross them so that the left elbow sits on top of the right. Continue wrapping so that your right and left hands touch. If this is too difficult, simply hold your hands in prayer position at your chest.
To come out, start by unraveling the arms, followed by the legs. If you have a hard time balancing, you can hold on to the wall or a chair at first.
Bonus Tips for Reducing Knee Pain During Yoga
While you’re working on strengthening the muscles around your knees, you can follow these other steps to avoid pain during your yoga practice.
Wear a Knee Brace
It can be hard to figure out how to choose the best knee brace for working out, but most people prefer a thin, flexible knee sleeve so that their range of motion isn’t hindered by the brace.
If poses like low lunge or Balasana (Child’s Pose) irritate your knees, you can pad them up with a rolled up blanket or folded towel.
Some people are very flexible and end up hyperextending their knees during some poses. Keep a slight bend in your knees during these poses so you don’t put unnecessary pressure on them.
Don’t let knee pain get in the way of your yoga practice!
Practice these poses on a regular basis (and keep these safety tips mentioned above in mind) and you’ll stay safe on your mat.