This knee focus sequence for Level 1 students is aimed at mobilising and stabilising the knees through balanced work in the hips, knees and feet. The knees sometimes suffer because areas above and below the knees (hips and feet) are not functioning in an integrated way. We will activate the legs and knees by bending and then stretching the legs out straight.
Set up in Supta Baddha Konasana, lying back over a bolster with a blanket for head support and another under the outer thighs to support the hips and knees.
Come up and go forward in Virasana. Place a small folded blanket behind the knees and another blanket between the buttocks and the heels if the knees are tight.
Sit up in Dandasana to open the backs of the knees and bring release.
Sit in Vajrasana, ankles and feet together, with a folded blanket between the buttocks and heels to create more space for the bent knees. Interlock the fingers and extend the arms up in Parvatasana. Change the clasp.
Extend the legs out into Dandasana.
Come to standing and place a block between the upper thighs. Bend forward into Uttanasana and stay half a minute there, and then step back to Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) keeping the block between the upper thighs. Feel how the block keeps the inner knees and legs lifting up as much as the outer knees and facilitates more even legwork.
Repeat Dog Pose with the block placed between your ankles this time and feel how when the feet are working evenly this helps to bring a balanced lift through the legs into the pelvis.
Position your back against the wall, feet hip-width apart, about one foot or so away from the wall. Placing a block between your lower thighs, just above the knees, bend into Utkatasana (Chair Pose), keeping the back pelvis against the wall. Hold for some breaths, and then slide up and down 3-4 times.
Step away from the wall with the block now between your inner ankles.
Bend into Utkatasana, arms up or out in front. Go up and down 4-5 times, feeling the work that comes into the thighs and inner legs. Keep the two inner ankles evenly holding the block.
Take the support of a bench or counter for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 and 2. Loop a belt around the ball of the foot, looking to see that the standing leg is straight and the knee is lifted into the thigh. Then turn to the side for the second variation.
Set up for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 4. Standing on the L leg, bend the R knee to the side, resting the outer shin onto the bench. Open the four corners of the bent leg foot away from the knee and stand straight, with the L leg knee lifting up into the thigh. Change sides.
Place a folded blanket up against the wall and sit up with the buttocks and back right against the wall. Use your hands to rotate the lower inner thighs from the inside out. Observe the opening that comes in the lower pelvic region. Then place your hands onto the outside of both kneecaps and open the knees into your palms to lengthen the inner thighs more.
Come away from the wall and spread your legs out wide into Upavistha Konasana. Place your palms under the backs of the knees and press the back of the knees down to open that area fully.
Start with the L leg straight and bend and lift the R leg up, with a strap looped around the front of the heel.
Then extend the leg out to the side for the second variation, so that the R foot presses up against the wall to engage the hip more. The fourth variation, bend the R knee out to the side and hold the R foot in that position for a few breaths. Follow this action by bending the L leg and placing the outer edge of the bent R leg ankle against the bent L leg. Change sides.
To finish, lie on your back with both legs 90 degrees up against the wall to open out the hamstrings and knees and to rest the legs with wall support.
Then bend the legs to Baddha Konasana, and finally to Upavistha konasasana.
To finish, bend the knees into the chest, feet still pressing into the wall, and hold a few breaths before rolling to the side to come out.
Lie back for Savasana and let the legs, the face, and the breath all come back to neutral, with a quiet and balanced feeling throughout.