Friday, 15 July 2016

Protect your knees in standing balances


This week we are looking at how you can protect your knees in standing balances.

Dancer - there is a tendency in Dancer to swing the raised leg out to the side in order to take hold of the foot but it is better for your knee if you keep your knee pointing straight down. Also take care not to hyperextend the standing leg.



To practice Dancer Pose stand with the feet slightly apart and find a gaze point,a drishti.  Take your weight into your right foot and raise your right arm. Bend your left knee and take hold of the outside of your left foot or your left ankle.  Use a belt looped around your foot if you cannot reach.  For a different stretch on your shoulder hold the inside of your foot or ankle. This may be your pose or if you can press your raised foot up and back as you hinge forward from the groin. Inhale to come back to an upright position, exhale as you take your foot back down to the mat. Repeat second side. To modify practice with a wall, bringing your raised hand to the wall as you hinge forward. 



Tree Pose - in Tree pose the raised foot is pressing against the standing leg which can move the standing leg out of alignment.  In order to avoid this press into the raised foot with the standing leg with an equal force to the foot pressing into the standing leg.  This also helps you 'hug into the midline' making for a more stable balance.  Also the raised foot should not press against the knee.  If you have knee issues, the variation of Tree pose known as Half Lotus Tree is best avoided.

To practice Tree pose, start in Tadasana, hands to your heart and take your weight into your left leg.  Find a drishti then bring your right foot to your left ankle, shin or reach down and bring your right foot to your left thigh.  Inhale and stretch your arms up.  To come out of the pose breathe out and bring the raised foot back to the floor, your hands back to your heart. Repeat second side.



Half Moon Balance-  there is a tendency in Half Moon Balance for the foot of the standing leg to turn inwards.  To protect your knee make sure that the foot of your standing leg points the same way as your knee.  Do not hyperextend your standing leg, microbend your knee if you need to.  Also with the raised leg have your foot flexed, heel pressing away and your foot and knee facing forward.  



To practice the pose start in Tadasana. Bring your hands to your hips and step your feet wide. Exhale bend your right knee. Keep your left hand on your left hip and take your right hand to the mat or to a block (remember a block has 3 levels).  The block or your hand should be positioned 6-12 inches forward of your right little toe and slightly back.  Start to transfer your weight onto your right foot and slowly start to lift your left leg.  Breathe in and raise your left arm.  Your gaze can be straight ahead or up at the left hand.  


To come out of the pose lower the left hand to the left hip and drop the back leg to the mat. Inhale come up, front knee bent, arms to shoulder height, exhale bring your hands to your heart, turn your feet to face forward.  Repeat second side.  You can modify the pose by practicing with your shoulders and hips resting on a wall or you can bring your hand to the seat of the chair.


Extended Big Toe Pose - take care not to hyperextend either the raised leg or the standing leg. Keep the raised leg bent if you need to.  This pose requires openness in the hamstrings so if your hamstrings are very tight it may be best avoided while you work on bringing flexibility to your hamstrings.



To practice the pose start in Tadasana and take your weight into your left leg.  Find a drishti and bend your right knee in towards your chest and bringing your right arm inside your right leg, take hold of your big toe with your first two fingers.  Keep the raised leg hugging into the midline. Breathe in and extend your right leg.  If you feel balanced take your leg out to the side. To come out of the pose inhale , bring your leg back to centre, exhale release. To modify you may use a belt.

Eagle - to protect your knees ensure that the knee of the standing leg points straight forward. Eagle pose, a bent leg standing balance is very beneficial for your knees. 



To practice Eagle Pose, start in Tadasana.  Take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows.  If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift the elbows level with the shoulders and find a drishti, a gaze point.  Softly bend both knees and take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to the outside of the left, or take the right foot to the outside of the left calf or tuck the right foot behind the left calf. Hold and breathe.

To come out of the pose, stretch the arms and right leg out as if you are flying like an eagle. Repeat second side.

Please also see:-
'Protect your knees in standing poses - Part 1'
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/protecting-your-knees-in-standing-poses.html

'Protect your knees in standing poses - Revolved triangle and revolved side angle- Part 2'
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/protecting-your-knees-in-standing-poses.html


Stay safe, 

Namaste 
Janet x 

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