Bend zee knees…or perhaps not…

I messed my knees up good and proper in class the other night. I haven’t done Virasana for quite awhile, and though I don’t normally have any problems with it, I usually perform it after a standing sequence (ie my muscles and joints are nicely warmed up), and not for a particularly long hold, either.

Last night we started the class by sitting in Virasana, and stayed there for approximately 10 minutes, working through a series of seated warm up exercises. All was well until I attempted to stand up, and was faced with aching, stiffer-than-stiff knees. It was quite a while before I could straighten my legs properly, without all the aching and twinging in my knee caps.

Normally, the issues with my knees are in the opposite direction. I have a tendency to push right back into my knees, forcing them into hyperextension. My left knee will often lock up if held like this for even a short time (Parsvottanasana was my nemesis for a while, for this very reason). This was only picked up on when I returned to classes earlier this year after quite a long break, and so I’ve had to relearn a lot of the basic postures, such as Adho Mukha Svanasana and Utthita Trikonasana to ensure that my leg muscles are working instead of my poor knees.

Ardha Padmasana is okay. Full Padmasana, not so much. Any of the bound, half-lotus postures are doable, but with extreme care. Again, it was only this year that a teacher explained that the external rotation needs to come from the hip and thigh, not the knees, as I had been doing.

Starting from scratch has been both frustrating and humbling. But this is what it means to be a yoga student. No matter where you are in your practice, there is always something new to learn. And if starting again from the beginning means avoiding the risk of injury further on, then so be it.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. savasana addict
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:35:13

    I can totally sympathize with you. I know a teacher who starts all her classes with about 5-10min Virasana. After that every one is sore. Why not include it at a later stage? Important (I think) is to monitor who needs bolsters and blocks, something some teachers don’t think is necessary.
    Regarding Padmasana, I can understand that too. It helps me a lot to completely (!) bend the knee before even coming into the posture, particularly before a long seated session of pranayama. As your teacher said, bending from the hip is key here (as in Janu Sirsasana C from the primary series – a knee killer!).
    Good luck and all the best for your knees!


  2. omlotusyoga
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 20:54:42

    Exactly! I’m really lucky that I have great teachers who encourage us to use blocks or straps or whatever else we need. I think I just let my ego get in the way a bit, thinking that, well, I’ve done this before, I don’t need a block…now I know better!

    And thank you for all of your lovely comments!


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