Yoga Kneeling Postures include postures where both knees are bent and also poses where only one knee is in a kneeling position (semi-kneeling yoga postures). Kneeling poses include variations where:
Below are two kneeling poses with the spine bent forwards. In the first the buttocks are on top of the heels. In the second the feet are slightly separated so that the buttocks can sink to the floor between the feet (Bent Back Hero Pose).
If you have difficulty with kneeling and you either have tight ankles or knees that have difficulty bending completely then you may wish to work towards kneeling with these ankle stretches. The trick in all of them is to work gradually towards kneeling (moving in and out of the position repeatedly) but also activating the toes when moving into the kneeling position.
Semi-kneeling postures with both knees bent include bharadvajasana and easy bharadvajasana.
Note that in both of these positions the kneeling foot is positioned to the outside of the buttock so that both buttocks can sink to the floor. This foot position, which could be thought of as a variation on kneeling is used in the pose called "Hero Pose" (or Virasana) and so I call it the Hero foot position.
In the first pose the non-kneeling foot is in lotus position. In the easy option the foot of the non-kneeling leg is placed against the inner thigh of the kneeling leg. In the full version of Bharadvajasana, the spine is twisted towards the lotus-leg side. In the easy version you can twist in either direction.
You can also do a spinal side bend using this leg position.
This can be used to help improve your ability to do hero pose. However, do be careful, if your knee feels uncomfortable or it feels like there's something out of place, then come out of this position and readjust your knee so that it feels right.
For knee safety, rather than suddenly bending to the side, and suddenly lifting your arms, do both actions slowly and smoothly. Stop if you need to.
Other options using this semi-kneeling leg position include bending forwards and either twisting or sidebending the spine (or just bending forwards.)
You could also use this as an opportunity to stretch the back of your shoulders. (Try either option shown below to see which one works best for you.) For more shoulder stretching options that you can play with while kneeling visit the yoga shoulder stretches page.
Yoga kneeling posture options for kneeling with one knee bent and the other leg straight include bending forwards and laying backwards. The first position is called triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana and is used in the Ashtanga Yoga Poses Primary series. The second position could be called Reclining Half Hero Yoga Pose and can be used as the first in a series of reclining hip flexor and quadriceps stretches.
This later backbending hip flexor and quad stretching pose can then be used as the first in a series of single leg hip flexor/quad stretches.
I think that one trick students often miss in the bending forward position is pressing down with the straight leg to make it easier to balance without using the hands.
Another yoga semi-kneeling pose is a wide leg seated side bend.
Kneeling could be used as a rest position (below).
I like to rest while kneeling upright, but in a kneeling pose called child's pose you bend forwards and rest your forehead on the floor. I generally find this more comfortable with the arms back as opposed to forwards. Optionally you can rest your forehead on the backs of your hands.
Some other kneeling variations with the torso forwards include these cobra yoga pose variations found in the yoga postures for back pain series.
While kneeling upright you can bend your spine forwards or backwards or move slowly between the two exercising the spine with what I call easy breathing.
Another option is to twist the spine. You can do either an arm assisted twist using your arms to help turn your ribcage or you can do an active twist using the abs and intercostals to twist the ribcage.
You may get a deeper twist using the arms but you'll train the abs and intercostals with the abs active version.
Another semi-kneeling yoga posture is this marichyasana yoga posture variation. I use it because it can be easier to bind in this position.
To work towards this pose you can first separate your feet and place a yoga block between them and sit on the block. Once your knees are used to this position you can try removing the block and letting your hips gradually sink down. I'd recommend playing with the distance between your knees. Find a distance that is comfortable for both knees and hips.
You can also try actively resisting the stretch. Press your toes into the floor and press your shins down as if trying to lift your pelvis. Then slowly relax. Repeat a few times (x5 or more) and then come out of it.
To stretch the fronts of the hips and thighs you can lay back in this kneeling yoga posture. The result is called reclining hero pose or supta virasana.
For all kneeling positions pay attention to your knees, hip and ankles. Adjust there position when necessary and come out if the tendons and ligaments feel out of place.
Be cautious. If your knee feels uncomfortable, smoothly come out and adjust your foot and knee position, or shake the knee back out. Rest from these type of positions anytime you don't feel up to it.
Note that you may choose to work towards upright kneeling with the feet turned out. This externally rotates the shin with respect to the thigh. Work towards this gradually and carefully if you do choose to do so.
For hero pose variations (with the foot outside the hip) you may choose to counterpose with some sort of foot action where the shin is internally rotated relative to the thigh. An example of this is janu sirsasana C and half lotus pose.
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