Yoga is considered a low-impact, joint-friendly method of exercise, but not every yoga sequence is ideal for those with sensitive knees.
That's because certain poses can put pressure on the knees, which can lead to pain and discomfort if that joint is injured or easily aggravated.
If you've ever felt jarring pressure or discomfort in the knee joint after a Low Lunge, you know exactly what we're talking about.
"This flow is tailored for those with sensitive knees, as it offers beginner-friendly alternatives to traditional yoga poses that may otherwise cause discomfort around the knee joint," she explains.
"These simple yet nourishing postures will help you bring awareness and stability to the knees while giving your whole body a soothing stretch."
Before starting the sequence below, keep these additional tips in mind.
When in a pose that bears weight on the joint, Taylor Jeanne says to add cushion to avoid inflammation or pain.
A yoga mat with a little extra cushioning — like the Gaiam Performance Essential Support Yoga Mat 4.5mm ($40) — might be helpful here.
Taylor Jeanne also suggests maintaining a micro-bend in the knee during standing postures to avoid hyperextension. Modifications should always be made to ensure each pose is comfortable and nourishing — and don't forget to breathe.
"Remind yourself to breathe slowly and calmly, inhaling and exhaling through the nose," she says.
"This pose will help you find a more grounded, calming energy in the body and in the mind, while bringing awareness to your alignment," Taylor Jeanne says.
- Stand at the top of your mat with your feet about inner hips-distance apart.
- Ground equally through both feet, lengthen the spine, release the shoulder heads down the back, and relax your arms by your side.
- Micro-bend the knees to avoid hyperextension and to strengthen the quadriceps.
- Close your eyes and stay for 10-20 breaths.
Wide Forward Fold
- From mountain pose, heel-toe your feet as wide as your mat.
- Soften the knees as you forward fold.
- Having the legs as wide as the mat will give your hamstrings and low back more room to breathe.
- If your hands don't touch the floor, try using blocks.
- Stay for 10-15 breaths.
Half Sun Salutations
"This mini flow builds heat and allows us to link breath with movement," Taylor Jeanne says.
- Starting in Mountain pose, inhale to reach the arms up over your head. Exhale to forward fold, and inhale to a halfway lift, pressing your hands on your shins and opening the chest toward the front of the room.
- Exhale to forward fold, inhale to circle the arms up over the head as you come to stand, and exhale to release the arms by your side.
- Repeat 5-10 times, moving with your breath.
"Down Dog is a great pose to give you a big stretch in the legs and strengthen the shoulders," Taylor Jeanne says.
- Transition from Mountain pose to Downward Dog by folding over the legs, stepping both feet back and aligning your feet hips-distance apart and your hands shoulder-distance apart.
- Bend the knees slightly and track them over your feet.
- Pedal your feet one at a time to stretch the hamstrings, sway your hips from side-to-side, and shake your head yes and no.
- Stay for 10-20 breaths.
Bridge Pose With a Block
- Come to lay on your back with your knees bent, and with feet hips-distance apart.
- Place a block between your thighs, squeeze the block while rooting your feet into the mat, and lift your hips up.
- Stay for 5-10 breaths and repeat three times.
- Adding a block will help keep the knees well-aligned, as well as fires up the thighs.
- Place the block on the lowest setting — width wise — underneath the sacrum (the flat part of the back).
- The knees can stay bent, but feel free to experiment with different shapes here — maybe the legs want to lift to the sky for a supported inversion. Or, perhaps you'd like to let the legs straighten and release all the way down to the ground.
- The block provides extra support in this pose and is a great way to give the back some TLC.
- Stay for 5 minutes.
"This posture is a great alternative to the traditional pigeon pose without putting any pressure on the knees," Taylor Jeanne notes.
- Start by lying on your back with both knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
- Cross your right ankle over your left thigh.
- Interlace your hands behind your left thigh and gently hug toward the chest.
- Options: sway the low back from side-to-side, or extend the left leg toward the sky for an extra hamstring stretch.
- Hold for 10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Sprinkle in an extra dose of relaxation and self-care by laying on your back with a rolled blanket, couch cushion, or pillow underneath your knees.
- Let your body surrender into stillness as you close your eyes.
- Stay for as long as you'd like.