How to Heal Your Knees?

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Doreen asks:

I have large fibroids which were surgically removed 7 years ago, but have returned with the same speed. Can you give me some suggestions to help dissolve them naturally?

Doreen, this is not something that I could help you with, but I would recommend, for sure, meeting with your allopathic medical doctor and then maybe considering talking to someone like a naturopath or an ayurveda practitioner, to see if they can help. But that’s way beyond my expertise.

Jessie asks:

I took yoga for a few years. I have been taught to breathe in and out through the nose, not the mouth. Are both methods correct?

The answer is, Jessie, in most traditional yoga practices, you’ll almost always breathe in and out through your nose. This is, more than anything, for energetic reasons. It’s very calming, puts you in a very different brainwave mental state. There’s all kinds of study and research around nose breathing versus mouth breathing.

In terms of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, like we do in gravity poses, you’ll also see this taught in some Pilates classes. It’s a different approach. It’s still very, very similar. The inhaling through the nose has that same affect on calming your body. The reason we do it in gravity yoga, and it’s not required, it tends to allow people to relax more deeply on the exhale, when they exhale through their mouth, and it also has kind of a natural relief throughout the whole body.

It’s not required. Plenty of people practice gravity yoga poses, breathing in and out through their nose. If that’s more comfortable or more natural for you, go ahead and do that. But I do find a lot of people find it really beneficial in gravity yoga, long-hold poses in particular, to inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. You still get the same calming benefits, but it has this kind of physiological release that happens in your body.

Ashley asks:

As of now, I do not do yoga. There are no studios near my house, but I take acro, so I can do back bends, splits and many other flexible things. I would love to practice yoga in my basement. What are some beginner moves that increase back and shoulder flexibility?

Ashley, if you can, I’d recommend trying to find a studio. If there’s not one in your area, maybe you could go visit one in a neighboring city or a neighboring town. It’s always good to go check in with a class, even though in many cases, myself included, mostly we practice at home.

That said, you can check out our YouTube channel, which is YouTube.com/LRockwood, like my name. Or you can check out our site. We’ve got tons of videos, and of course we have DVDs and other things you can practice with at home, too, but that would be a good place to get started.

Mary asks:

A friend of mine has trouble with his knee. It sounds like a ligament problem, and he had an injury the last year or two. Is there any exercises that can strengthen his knees?

Okay, so first of all, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a ligament problem. You don’t really know. It could be any number of things. It could be meniscus, it could be ACL, it could be a lot of different things. With knees, don’t mess around. I always tell people, just go get checked out.

If you have a knee injury and it gets worse, it could mean surgery. You might need surgery now. There’s plenty of times when you don’t need surgery, but there are times when people get a little bit of twinge in their knee, they don’t look after it and it turns into something that’s really serious.

So for sure, I’d go get that checked out. Provided your doctor signs off on it and it sounds like a good idea, the yoga practice that I think is most restorative to knees, tends to be hot yoga practices, like an absolute yoga style, like we teach, or a Bikram hot yoga or a Moksha yoga or a Barkan hot yoga. All of these yoga’s have really strong standing practices, often asymmetric standing, so standing on one leg. They’re very safe, because your knee is stabilized. They very much work on engaging and strengthening your lower body and your core, which is really, really fantastic for your knees.

In terms of knee rehabilitation, those practices are some of the most renown, those styles of practice. Hope that’s helpful.

Bernita asks:

I’m in my late 50’s and have never been very flexible, so I am eager to make the most of Yogabody gravity poses. When I try The Hangman pose, I can’t seem to straighten my arms. Is that okay?

So Hangman pose is when you lay next to the wall, with your hands up the wall, with your head dangling between your arms. When you first start, Bernita, it’s really common for your elbows to bend. That’s no problem at all. Just work towards straight arms. And even when your arms are straight, it’s still a soft bend in the elbow, so they’re not locked out straight. So don’t worry about that at all, just keep practicing.

Another approach I’ve played with to stretch and bend in the waist is to an L shape. I am initially not quite true to the L shape. At first, it seems I can get a good stretch that way, progressing in that direction. What do you think of this approach?

Bernita is doing a Hangman pose, at a 90 degree angle at the wall, with hinging at the hips, hands on the wall. That’s a really great variation. It’s not nearly as strong of a pose, but it is certainly gentler, and it’s a good way to warm up and a good way to approach it.

In terms of the benefits, the Hangman is a much more powerful pose, but you’ve got to work with where you’re at. So if that’s working for you, keep doing that.

Jessica asks:

: I have been working hard on my stretching for the past week or so, and I’m getting really sore. My hips are my problem area. After a week of doing lots of bhadda konasana (when you’re sitting on the floor, bring your feet together, your knees stick out like butterfly wings. We call it Butterfly in gravity yoga poses.) I can barely get into it, let alone start to lean my upper body forward. It feels like I’m moving backwards rather than improving. Is this a normal part of the process? Should I push through?

First of all, if you’re getting too sore, take a couple days off, or you’re not going to do yourself any good. You don’t want to get too sore. So take a couple days off, if you need to. Bhadda konasana is an awkward pose. What I would recommend doing is rolling up a towel and putting it under your bum, to give you a little bit of leverage forward.

If you can, place your hands on the floor in front of you, and keep your back long. Your back is going to want to roll up like a roly-poly bug. Instead, try to put your hands on the floor and lengthen your chest forward, especially if you’re really struggling. And take it easy. Don’t push through. That idea of pushing through in yoga is generally not a great idea.

Carly asks:

I took 3 YOGABODY Stretch capsules 40 minutes before class, with a large glass of water. I realize I should have started with 1 capsule and see how my stomach handled it. I had a bad class. What is your feedback for the next time?

For sure, you want to practice on an empty stomach. If you’re taking YOGABODY Stretch or any other nutritional supplement, or even any kind of medication, you’d want to take it at least an hour before practice so that it’s not sitting there in your stomach. The same goes for food and all kinds of other things.

With vitamins in particular, you’ve got to kind of play with it. Some people have more sensitive stomachs than others, but if you do, I’d recommend taking them with meals. It takes a little bit longer to absorb. In some cases, it might impair absorption, but that’s okay. As long as your stomach is feeling good, that’s a better approach.

So I would suggest try taking your nutritional supplements with meals, if you have a sensitive stomach, and make sure you don’t eat about three hours before practice.

Carolyn asks:

Would YOGABODY Stretch have a negative effect on someone with blood thinning drug Warfrin? People on this drug are supposed to limit foods with Vitamin K, due to its ability to clot the blood.

What I would say, Carolyn, is for sure check with your doctor on this. In theory, there shouldn’t be any kind of complications, but when you’re on medications like this, blood thinning medications, for sure you want to check with your doctor and make sure that’s okay.