Thursday, 23 June 2016

Protecting your knees in Hero pose

Hero is tough on your knees which are in deep flexion in the pose but on the other hand it can also be therapeutic for knee issues.  If you have knee problems you should work closely with a yoga teacher because different knee problems may require different ways of propping.  
Hero stretches the quadriceps which often are tight if we sit a great deal and this can impinge on posture.  It also stretches the ankles. If you are comfortable, Hero is a good pose to do breathing practices or meditation in because it helps keep your spine straight.

Even if you have no knee issues you need to be careful.  Never force your body into Hero, or any other pose and if you feel any pain, come out of the pose immediately.  The reason why the knees need a little extra care is that the knee joint is very shallow.  It is because of this that the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint need to strong.  You should work on this for some time before attempting Hero pose.  Poses that would help strengthen the supporting ligaments and muscles include standing balances such as Tree pose or Dancer, standing poses such as chair pose, the Warrior poses, Side Angle or Intense Side Stretch. 

Squats such as Garland pose and Goddess Squat also help stretch the supporting ligaments and muscles. See the 'Yoga Pose Gallery'-

To come into Hero pose start in kneeling with your knees together and heels apart so that there is space for you to sit back between your heels.  Your feet should be in line with your shins.  Sit back between your heels.  If this is too much for your knees, elevate your hips by placing one or two blocks between your heels (short edge of the block towards your knees). Top the blocks with a blanket if you need to.  Do not let your props force your knees apart. Your ankles  should be tucked in close your hips and your weight evenly distributed over your sit bones.  If your ankles bother you in the pose, a rolled up towel placed under your feet can help.  Rest your hands on your thighs. Some people may benefit from a rolled up towel placed behind the knees. To come out of the pose come back to kneeling, remove any props then come to all fours. Extend your right leg back and press away through your heel. Repeat with the left leg.  

Hero pose 

Hero pose supported by blanket and blocks

Hero pose with towel behind knees

Hero pose with towel under ankles

If Hero is just too much for you at the moment, there are other poses that will give you the same benefits.  Dancer pose is a good stretch for the quadriceps and ankles as is Bow pose. Most people also find that they are more comfortable sitting back on your heels in Thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana) - although I remember that when I began yoga I could not do this!

Janet x 

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