Blaine experienced chronic knee pain herself until she took up yoga more than 20 years ago. Here, she shares her best tips for happy, healthy knees.
Choose your yoga class wisely. All yoga styles are not created equal. And when it comes to knees, Blaine recommends a style that teaches proper alignment in every pose, such as Iyengar or Anusara. Both will keep you safe and teach you how your joints are meant to move. Avoid fast-paced styles like ashtanga and vinyasa. "Stick with a slower, more therapeutic practice, " Blaine says. "Otherwise, you'll just move within the patterns already established in your body, which can worsen existing conditions."
Your hip is connected to your...? When you feel pain one place, there's a good chance that something is going on somewhere else in your anatomy. Case in point: Your knee pain may be the result of tight hips. "Tight hip muscles don't allow for enough rotation to bend forward easily, " Blaine says. " So your knees will take over." As a result, the knees torque painfully in the joint. Her advice? "Props help adapt [yoga] poses to your needs so they're safest for you, " she says.
In any seated cross-legged pose, sit up on top of a block or folded blanket so your hip bones are higher than your knees. That way you will be able to stretch your hip muscles without straining your knees. Also try creating extra space in your knee joint in seated yoga poses by placing washcloths in the creases behind your knees. If you can make hip-opening poses safe and comfortable enough to do regularly, you may be able to ease your knee pain for good.