Practicing yoga can be an amazing experience. It can clear your mind while working your body. The goal is often to be cleansing and caring, letting you deepen your self-awareness. It should not be creating or exaggerating pain. In class, yoga instructors often encourage students to make small adjustments so that the poses work for their bodies. There are a few easy modifications to help your practice be more fulfilling.
Everything starts with the feet, from the earth you build up. Root down through the four corners of your feet in every pose. Think about alignment. Knees should be stacked over ankles, like in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). Find alignment even in difficult balancing poses. In Garudasana (Eagle), bent knees and elbows should be even with the center line of your body.
Hyperextending the knee joint can occur in poses where the expectation is for the legs to be straight, like in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) or Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold). Remember to keep a micro-bend in your knees. Do not lock the joints.
Props are Your Friend
In Eagle, you can have a block to rest the toes of your crossed leg, a towel can be placed under the knees in Seated Forward Fold. If a pose has your knee on the ground, like with Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), place a towel under your knee or fold your mat over to give yourself extra padding. There are some companies that even sell yoga knee pads.
In Supta Virasana (Reclined/Sleeping Hero), place blocks under your seat, and/or spine and head. You can also place towels or blankets behind your knees. Even though Balasana (Child’s Pose) is considered a resting pose, place towels behind your knees to ease discomfort here as well. One pose can have multiple variations.
If you have any issues, you can let the instructor know so that they don’t adjust you in a way that exacerbates your pain. Instructors often say, do what feels good in your body. Don’t judge yourself. Make sure you’re moving in a way that is best for you.