Knee Pain Yoga

Knee pain is a common issue that affects many adults, disrupting their daily activities and overall quality of life. Yoga, a holistic practice that incorporates physical postures, breath control, and mindfulness, can be an effective way to alleviate knee pain and improve overall knee health. In this guide, you will learn about the causes and types of knee pain, the basics of yoga, essential poses for knee pain relief, safety precautions, building a yoga sequence, and integrating yoga into your daily life. Keep reading to discover how practicing yoga can help you reduce knee pain and enhance your overall well-being.

Understanding Knee Pain

Knee pain is a common complaint that can affect people of all ages. It’s important to understand the causes, types, and symptoms of knee pain to effectively address it. Practicing yoga can be an effective way to alleviate knee pain and improve overall well-being.

Causes of Knee Pain:

  • Injuries: Sprains, strains, tears in ligaments or tendons, fractures, and dislocations can cause knee pain.
  • Medical conditions: Arthritis, gout, infections, and autoimmune disorders can lead to knee pain.
  • Overuse: When the knee is repeatedly used in a certain way, such as in sports or work activities, it can cause pain.
  • Degeneration: Age-related wear and tear can result in knee pain.
  • Obesity: Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on the knee joints, increasing the risk of pain and injury.

Types of Knee Pain:

  • Acute knee pain: Sudden onset of pain often caused by an injury or acute inflammation, usually lasting no more than a few weeks.
  • Chronic knee pain: Persistent pain experienced over an extended period, often caused by long-term damage or degeneration.
  • Recurrent knee pain: Pain that comes and goes but is not constant. This can be caused by a combination of factors, including injuries, overuse, or underlying medical conditions.

Symptoms of Knee Pain:

  • Swelling and stiffness of the joint
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Inability to fully straighten or bend the knee
  • Weakness and instability in the joint
  • Grade swelling
  • Sharp pain or aching sensation
  • Warmth and redness around the knee
  • Popping or crunching noises when moving the knee

Yoga for Knee Pain Relief:

Practicing specific yoga postures can help alleviate knee pain by improving flexibility, strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint, and reducing inflammation. Below are some yoga poses that may be helpful for addressing knee pain:

  1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Stand with your feet hip-width apart, inhale and raise your arms above your head. Exhale and sit back as if sitting in a chair, keeping your knees over your ankles and your chest lifted. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. This pose helps to strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
  2. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and close to your hips. Press down through your feet and lift your hips, engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. This pose helps to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and can alleviate knee pain.
  3. Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana): Lie on your back and hug your right knee to your chest. Place a strap or belt around the ball of your right foot and extend the right leg toward the ceiling, holding the strap with both hands. Keep the left leg extended on the floor. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides. This pose helps to stretch the hamstrings and calf muscles, which can alleviate tension and knee pain.
  4. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II): Stand with your feet wide apart, and turn your right toes to face the top of the mat and your left toes in slightly. Bend your right knee, making sure it stays directly over your ankle. Extend your arms parallel to the floor and gaze over your right hand. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides. This pose helps to strengthen the thighs and leg muscles, which can support weakened knees.

Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program, and keep in mind that not all yoga poses will be appropriate for all individuals. When practicing yoga for knee pain, focus on alignment and work within your range of motion, modifying poses as needed to avoid any discomfort.

Illustration of a person in Warrior II pose with arrows pointing to the muscles surrounding the knee joint.

Yoga Basics

Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines to promote overall well-being. It originated in India around 5,000 years ago and has since become a popular form of exercise and stress relief. The word “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, representing the balance and harmony between the mind, body, and spirit.

The primary goal of yoga is to create a balanced state of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Yoga helps to improve flexibility, strength, and balance while also reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It is often used for mental and emotional healing, as well as physical rehabilitation. Many people also use yoga as a form of meditation and self-discovery.

Proper breathing is essential in yoga practice, as it connects the mind and body and helps to maintain focus. Pranayama is the practice of controlling the breath, and there are several different techniques used in yoga. Some common pranayama techniques include:

  • Ujjayi breath: Also known as “ocean breath”, this technique involves breathing in and out through the nose while slightly constricting the throat. This creates a soothing sound and helps to keep the breath slow and steady.
  • Nadi shodhana: Also known as “alternate nostril breathing”, this technique involves alternating between breathing in through one nostril and breathing out through the other. This helps to balance the body’s energy and promote relaxation.
  • Kapalabhati: Also known as “skull-shining breath”, this technique involves short, forceful exhalations and passive inhalations. This helps to cleanse the lungs and stimulate the digestive system.

There are many different styles of yoga, each with its own focus and techniques. Some popular styles include:

  • Hatha yoga: A gentle style that focuses on basic postures and breathing techniques. This is a good option for beginners or those looking for a slower-paced practice.
  • Ashtanga yoga: A more intense, fast-paced style that involves a set sequence of postures. This is better suited for those looking for a challenging workout and who have experience with yoga.
  • Iyengar yoga: A style that emphasizes precise alignment and the use of props to support the body in postures. This is a good option for those recovering from injury or with limited mobility.
  • Kundalini yoga: A spiritual practice that combines postures, breathing, and meditation to awaken the body’s energy centers. This is more focused on the mind-body connection and spiritual growth.

To safely practice yoga with knee pain, it’s essential to choose poses that don’t put too much strain on the knees and modify postures when necessary. Here are a few poses that can help relieve knee pain:

  • Supine hand-to-big-toe pose: Lie on your back and extend one leg up, holding the big toe with a strap or your hand. Keep the other leg extended and grounded. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. This pose helps to stretch the hamstrings and hip muscles, relieving tension around the knee.
  • Supported bridge pose: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms alongside your body. Lift your hips and place a block or bolster underneath your sacrum. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. This pose helps to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and improve knee stability.
  • Seated forward bend: Sit with legs extended, feet flexed, and spine tall. Exhale and reach your hands toward your feet, keeping your spine straight. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. This pose helps to stretch the hamstrings, calf muscles, and back, reducing tension around the knees.

Remember to listen to your body and avoid any postures that cause pain or discomfort. Always consult a doctor or certified yoga instructor for guidance when practicing yoga with knee pain.

Yoga is a versatile practice that can benefit individuals of all ages and abilities. By familiarizing yourself with basic yoga concepts, techniques, and styles, you can find a practice that suits your needs and promotes overall well-being. Remember, always listen to your body and modify poses as needed to ensure a safe and enjoyable yoga experience.

A person sitting on a yoga mat with their legs extended and leaning forward, stretching their back and legs.

Essential Yoga Poses for Knee Pain

Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This gentle pose stretches and releases the muscles around the knees and ankles while promoting relaxation.


  • Start by kneeling on your yoga mat or a comfortable surface.
  • Bring your big toes together and spread your knees about hip-width apart.
  • Sit back on your heels and slowly lower your forehead to the mat, extending your arms straight in front of you.
  • Let your chest rest between your thighs, and relax your shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 1-3 minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable.

Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves, relieving knee pain caused by tight muscles.


  • Lie flat on your back with your legs together and your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your right knee and hug it into your chest.
  • Use a yoga strap or a towel to loop it around the arch of your right foot.
  • Hold the strap with both hands and gently straighten your right leg, lifting it towards the ceiling.
  • Keep your left leg active and pressed into the mat.
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then slowly release your leg and repeat on the other side.

Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This flowing movement stretches and strengthens the muscles around the knees and improves joint mobility.


  • Come onto your hands and knees, aligning your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  • Inhale and lift your chest and tailbone towards the ceiling while dropping your belly towards the floor (Cow Pose).
  • Exhale and press into your hands to round your back, tucking your tailbone under and bringing your chin towards your chest (Cat Pose).
  • Repeat the sequence 5-10 times, moving slowly and linking your breath with the movement.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This pose strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, providing support to the knee joint.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Place your arms at your sides, palms down.
  • As you inhale, press into your feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling, engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then slowly lower your hips back to the floor.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This forward fold stretches the hamstrings, calves, and lower back, alleviating tension that may contribute to knee pain.


  • Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended straight in front of you and your back tall.
  • Inhale and reach your arms overhead, then exhale and hinge at your hips to fold forward, reaching for your feet, ankles, or shins.
  • Keep your spine long and fold only as far as you feel a comfortable stretch.
  • Hold for 1-3 minutes, breathing deeply.

An illustration of a person doing yoga poses to alleviate knee pain

Practicing Yoga Safely

Yoga can be a beneficial practice for alleviating and preventing knee pain, when done with proper alignment, precautions, and modifications. Follow these instructions to ensure a safe yoga practice for your knees:

  1. Consult a doctor or therapist: Before starting any exercise regimen, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare professional to understand the cause of your knee pain and seek their advice on whether yoga is suitable for your condition.

  2. Warm-up: Begin your yoga practice with a gentle warm-up, such as cat-cow, hip circles, and gentle stretches to lubricate your joints and warm up your muscles.

  3. Choose the right style of yoga: Select a yoga style that is gentle on joints and focuses on alignment, such as Hatha or Iyengar. Avoid vigorous practices like Ashtanga or Vinyasa, which can put more strain on the knees.

  4. Use props: Props like blocks, straps, and bolsters can help with alignment and provide support during poses, reducing stress on the knees. For example, place a block under your hips during seated forward folds or a folded blanket under your knees during poses like the low lunge.

  5. Practice proper alignment: Proper alignment is crucial in preventing further injury to your knees. Keep your knees in line with your toes, never allowing them to collapse inward or outward. Additionally, avoid hyperextending your knees by keeping a slight bend in them.

  6. Strengthen supporting muscles: A strong lower body will help support your knees and prevent injury. Focus on poses that strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, such as chair pose, bridge pose, and warrior poses.

  7. Modify poses as needed: Be mindful of your body and modify poses to suit your individual needs. If a pose causes pain or discomfort in your knees, adjust the pose or use props for support.

  8. Avoid or modify unsafe poses: Certain yoga poses may not be appropriate for those with knee issues, such as full lotus or deep squats. Avoid these poses or consult with a certified yoga instructor for modifications suitable for your condition.

  9. Listen to your body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during your practice, and be willing to back off or modify poses to protect your knees. If a pose causes knee pain or discomfort, stop immediately and ask your yoga teacher for modifications or alternatives.

  10. Establish a regular practice: A consistent yoga routine will help strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding your knees, providing long-term support and pain relief.

Remember, yoga is a personal practice, and it’s essential to listen to your body and make adjustments as necessary. By following these guidelines, you can work towards a safe and effective yoga practice to reduce and prevent knee pain.

An image of a person practicing yoga with a focus on knee alignment and proper form during a pose, with the knees in line with the toes and a slight bend in the knees. The image shows the use of props like blocks and blankets for support.

Yoga Sequences for Knee Pain

Note: Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any yoga practice, especially if you have a history of knee pain or injuries. Start with gentle movements and increase the intensity as your comfort level allows. Listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Warm-Up Poses

  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Engage your leg muscles by lifting your kneecaps.
    • Stand tall with your chest open and shoulders rolled back and down.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths.
  2. Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
    • Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart.
    • Hinge at your hips and fold forward, bringing your hands to the ground or onto a block.
    • Keep your back straight and engage your leg muscles.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths.
  3. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
    • Begin on all fours, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
    • Inhale, arch your back, and lift your chest and gaze (Cow Pose).
    • Exhale, round your back, and tuck your chin and pelvis (Cat Pose).
    • Repeat 5 times, syncing your breath with the movement.

Main Poses

  1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
    • Step your right foot forward, with your right knee stacked above your right ankle.
    • Lower your left knee to the ground, placing a folded blanket under your knee for support if needed.
    • Engage your core and lift your chest.
    • Hold for five breaths then switch sides.
  2. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
    • Press your feet into the floor and lift your hips, engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths before lowering slowly to the ground.
    • Repeat 2-3 times.
  3. Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
    • Lie on your back with both legs straight.
    • Hug your right knee into your chest, then extend the right leg up towards the ceiling.
    • Hold onto the right big toe with your right hand, or use a strap around your foot for support.
    • Gently pull your right leg towards you, keeping your left leg grounded.
    • Hold for five breaths then switch sides.
  4. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
    • Stand in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Bend your knees and lower your hips like you are sitting in a chair.
    • Keep your chest open, engage your core, and raise your arms overhead.
    • Make sure your knees are well aligned with your feet, maintaining strength in your leg muscles.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths.

Cooldown Stretches

  1. Reclined Figure-Four Pose (Supta Eka Pada Utkatasana)
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
    • Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
    • Gently pull your left knee towards your chest, lifting your left foot off the ground.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths then switch sides.
  2. Supine Hamstring Stretch (Supta Ardha Supta Padangusthasana)
    • Lie on your back with both legs extended on the ground.
    • Bend your right knee and interlace your hands behind your right thigh.
    • Gently straighten your right leg up, feeling a stretch in your hamstring.
    • Hold for 5 deep breaths and switch sides.
  3. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
    • Lie on your back with your arms and legs gently extended.
    • Allow your body to relax and feel a sense of surrender with each breath.
    • Close your eyes and take deep breaths for at least 5-10 minutes.

An image of a person doing the low lunge pose indicated in step 4 of the sequence to help visualize the pose.

Integrating Yoga into Daily Life

Practicing yoga regularly can improve flexibility, strength, and balance, which may help alleviate knee pain. Follow the instructions below to create a consistent yoga practice in your daily routine and explore other lifestyle changes that can support knee health.

1. Set a specific time for yoga practice:

Dedicate a specific time each day for your yoga practice to build consistency, ideally in the morning or evening when the body is naturally more relaxed. Consistent practice is important for long-term knee pain relief.

2. Create a comfortable space:

Designate a quiet, clutter-free space in your home where you can practice yoga undisturbed. Make sure your yoga area is comfortable, well-ventilated, and has adequate lighting.

3. Choose the right yoga mat and props:

Invest in a good-quality, non-slip yoga mat to prevent injuries. You can also use props such as a yoga strap, bolster, or folded blanket to make some poses more accessible, comfortable, and supportive for your knees.

4. Start with a gentle warm-up:

Begin your yoga practice with gentle warm-up exercises to prepare your body for more rigorous poses. Warm-ups can include slow ankle and knee rotations, gentle spinal twists, and hip openers.

5. Practice knee-friendly yoga poses:

Incorporate yoga poses that can help alleviate knee pain, such as:

  • Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe (Supta Padangusthasana)
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
  • Half Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Remember to practice these poses with care, keeping the knees aligned and engaging the muscles around the joints.

6. Modify poses as needed:

Listen to your body and make adjustments to poses if they feel uncomfortable or cause pain. You can use props or try different variations of poses to find what works best for you, while still protecting your knees.

7. Cooling down and relaxation:

Finish your yoga practice with gentle stretches and a final relaxation pose called Corpse pose (Savasana). This helps your body cool down and reaffirms the mind-body connection.

8. Start slowly and progress gradually:

If you’re new to yoga, start with a shorter practice, around 15-20 minutes, and slowly increase the duration over time as you become more comfortable.

9. Consider guidance from a professional:

To ensure proper alignment and technique, consider attending a yoga class with a certified instructor or seeking one-on-one assistance.

10. Explore additional lifestyle changes to support knee health:

Along with a yoga practice, consider additional lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your knee joints.
  • Strengthening core and leg muscles to provide better support for your knees.
  • Wearing appropriate footwear to decrease stress on your knees.
  • Taking breaks from activities that may cause knee pain, like sitting or standing for extended periods.
  • Trying other forms of low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling, to complement your yoga practice.

Integrating yoga and following these tips can help you create a daily practice that supports knee health, reduces pain, and improves overall well-being.

A person sitting down with their back straight, their left leg extended and their right leg bending inwards at their side, stretching the knee muscles.

Tracking Progress and Adjustments

To effectively manage knee pain, it’s important to track progress and make adjustments to your yoga practice. Here are the instructions on how to do so:

  1. Maintain a practice journal: Keep track of your daily yoga routine, pain levels, and any challenges you face in a journal. Note down specific yoga poses performed, duration, props used, and time of day to identify patterns and make appropriate adjustments to your practice.

  2. Rate your pain levels: Rate your knee pain before and after each yoga session on a scale of 1-10 to evaluate the effectiveness of your yoga routine in managing your knee pain.

  3. Take progress photos: Capture a photo of yourself performing a specific yoga pose on a weekly basis to compare your progress in terms of flexibility, strength, and alignment.

  4. Evaluate alignment and technique: Ensure that you’re performing each yoga pose with proper alignment and technique to maximize effectiveness and avoid aggravating knee pain. Consult with a yoga instructor or use online resources for guidance.

  5. Listen to your body: Identify any discomfort or pain during your yoga practice and note it in your journal. Consult with your yoga instructor or physiotherapist for modifications or alternative poses suited for your knee condition.

  6. Make necessary adjustments: Adjust your yoga practice based on journal entries, pain levels, and progress photos. Spend more time in specific poses, add props for support or incorporate additional poses for strengthening or stretching.

  7. Gradually increase intensity: Increase the intensity and duration of your yoga practice over time as your knee pain decreases and strength and flexibility improve.

  8. Stay consistent: Practice regularly, ideally every day or at least 3-4 times a week for optimal results.

  9. Monitor progress monthly: Evaluate overall progress at the end of each month and set new goals for the upcoming month based on your practice journal, pain ratings, and progress photos.

  10. Seek professional guidance: Consult a yoga instructor, physiotherapist, or doctor for guidance and personalized recommendations if needed.

Remember, be patient and consistent as you use yoga to alleviate your knee pain. Adjust your practice as needed, stay focused on your goals, and celebrate your progress along the way!

A person performing yoga with specific focus on their knees. The person is wearing comfortable clothes and is sitting with crossed legs. The image shows the correct alignment of knees for yoga to alleviate knee pain.

As you progress in your yoga journey, be patient and kind to yourself. Remember that it takes time to see the benefits of a consistent practice. Be sure to pay attention to your body’s signals and make adjustments as needed to avoid exacerbating your knee pain. Stay committed to your daily practice, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional to ensure you’re on the right track. By incorporating yoga into your daily life and following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can effectively manage knee pain and move forward toward a more comfortable, healthy, and fulfilling life.