Anatomy and Asana Ezine
Thanks Kat, in Toronto for your questions
this ezine is for you!
In a previous ezine, I wrote about the knee in general and what to be
conscious of in asanas such as Padmasana (lotus) and Kapotasana (pigeon).
Today, we will focus on creating stability around the knee joint.
The knee joint is comprised of 3 bones the femur (thigh bone), the
tibia (shin bone) and the patella (knee cap). It has 2 primary movements -
flexion (knee bending) and extension (knee straightening). There is a little
bit of rotation (twisting), but not much.
This is an important point for us Yogis and Yoginis because sometimes in Yoga,
we can find ourselves in asanas that cause torquing or twisting at the knee.
You may have felt this before on the inside or outside of the knee, or just
above the patella or in the back of the knee it feels like a twinge
or a strain with a character much different than the common muscle stretch
or muscle contraction.
If you have experienced this type sensation while in a Yoga asana, it is a
sign that the knee was not stable during that movement.
So what creates knee stability?
The simple answer is that while the bones create the knee joint, it is the
ligaments and muscles that give those bones stability in both static and dynamic
If either the ligaments or the muscles become irritated (torn, overstretched,
imbalanced), they can cause any of the 3 bones to move out of position, compromising
What are those ligaments and muscles?
The ligaments are the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (which control
side to side movement) and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (which
control front to back motion).
The muscles are the quadriceps, which cause knee extension (straightening
the knee); and the hamstrings, sartorius, gracilis, plantaris, popliteus and
gastrocnemius, which cause knee flexion (bending the knee). It is important
to have a balance between these groups of muscles.
But there is more!!
We need to take this one step further. Remember that the knee joint
is comprised of 3 bones. 2 of these bones help to create 2 other joints, respectively.
The femur (thigh bone) helps to create the hip joint; and the tibia (shin
bone) helps to create the ankle joint. To make this even clearer of
the 12 muscles that cross the knee joint, 8 of them cross the hip joint (4
quads, 3 hamstrings, and sartorius) and 1 of them crosses the ankle joint
(gastrocnemius via the Achilles tendon). So if there is something funky, or
not functional going on at the knee, it is imperative to look at the muscles
that stabilize these two other joints.
Applying this to Yoga:
As always, if you are practicing and are experiencing pain or strain, please
seek out medical attention, whether that be a chiropractor, a manual physiotherapist
or a doctor with a specialty in sports medicine. This is to rule out any potential
problems like cartilage tears or ligament strains.
All of your standing Yoga poses will help create and maintain knee stability
so long as you maintain the knee in the alignment that it is meant to be in.
Here are some ideas to help that become true for you:
· Be sure you are not feeling any
pain or strain that is not common to a normal muscle contraction or muscle
· Bring awareness to the 3 mounds
of your foot ball of foot, base of pinky toe and center of heel.
· Bring awareness to your hips
- if you are in Warrior 1, are they square? If you are in Warrior 2, are your
thighs moving into external rotation?
· And the knee, as you are bending
it, is it truly moving in flexion or is there some wobble going on?
All in all, take some time to develop mobility and strength and move in the
way the joint wants you to move. Life is way too short to blow out your knees
Have fun exploring
All the best,
The intent of this article to help you further your understanding
and usability of anatomy and asana. Please email me with any
questions. I am currently working on a manual of anatomy and asana, and
your questions will help me to explain concepts in the clearest
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor
Anatomy and Asana workshops, please visit www.functionalsynergy.com