I’ve been having knee trouble for a while. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s not. If I am good and do strengthening and stretching every day, it’s much better.
Leslie Howard is a yoga teacher in California who specializes in pelvic floor function. She said in a recent newsletter that if people have knee trouble, it’s often related to pelvic floor disfunction. This makes sense to me, because the muscles that go from the pelvis to the knee are connected to the pelvic floor.
So one of the things I’ve been doing is a pelvic floor balancing sequence I got out of Yoga Journal ages ago (“Build Supple Strength in the Pelvic Floor”, by Hillari Dowdle, Yoga Journal, May 2010). And who doesn’t want a balanced pelvic floor, anyway? The sequence consists of five exercises that are variations on classic yoga poses. I can’t recommend this highly enough!
Another thing that might seem a bit counterintuitive is to sit in Virasana (hero’s pose). Sure, it’s a bad idea if you sit it this too low with funky knees. Two variations can help. One is to sit on a high support, so high that it does not hurt your knees at all. I used to be able to sit on one folded blanket, and so it is galling to me to sit up on two fat blocks. I’m doing it, and it helps. The other variation is to put something behind your knees before you sit down into the pose to add some space into the joint. This could be a rolled-up sticky mat, a couple of rolled washcloths, or a doubled or tripled yoga belt.
The wonderful book Yoga for Arthritis by Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall has a whole chapter on knees. You don’t have to have arthritis to benefit from this book.