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Yoga Bliss Gambia: Yoga to increase knee strength

My Magazine 2022/12
5 min
Author: Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
One of the most common pain issues that people often complain of is knee pain. Knee pain can be result of many reasons. Sports or physical injury, arthritis, osteoarthritis, and bursitis are some common causes people suffer from knee pain. Consulting a medical practitioner to see the cause of pain and options for treatment is utmost important to prevent any further deterioration of the condition. In any case, the pain is often coupled with weakness and/or stiffness in the surrounding muscles, and daily knee strengthening and stretching yoga asana can be a beneficial complementary treatment regimen.

In addition to the asanas, do try to check your diet and see if you are eating enough food that is providing you with sufficient Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, Omega-3, and try to add foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. These are sources which are easily available in the Gambia

Sources of Vitamin C: kren kren (molokhiya), bissap (both leaves and flower), baobab, moringa leaves and pods, kaba, mango, papaya, soursop

Source of Vitamin D: exposure to sunlight (daily exposure of 5 to 20 minutes depending on skin tone), egg yolk, oily fish

Source of Calcium: dairy products, sesame seeds, sardines, okra, kren kren (molokhiya)

Source of Omega-3: sardines, oily fish, avocado, pumpkin, soya bean, moringa leaves,

Source with anti-inflammatory properties: bissap leaves, bitter tomatoes, turmeric, ginger, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, green tea

Before you perform any of the following asana please make sure you are cleared by your medical practitioner. In this practice, you will require a rolled-up bath towel.


Staff pose (Dandasana)

Sitting on the floor with your spine erect engage your core. If this position is extremely difficult for you, sit against a wall for some support.
Take deep inhalation and exhalation through your nose. Allow your chest and stomach to expand with inhalation and the chest to lower and the stomach to draw in with the exhalation. Continue this breath throughout the practice.
Stay in staff pose for 10 breaths.

Pointing and flexing the feet (Goolf Naman)

Staying in staff pose, point and flex your feet. While controlling a steady movement, inhale to point and exhale to flex the feet. Repeat 10 times.


Knee extension and flexion (Janu Naman)

Staying in staff pose, inhale to lift your right leg, maintaining the extension, as you exhale, bend the knee and draw the knee towards your chest. Inhale to extend the leg again and exhale to lower the leg gently down to the ground. Repeat this 10 times on your right leg. Then repeat on the left leg 10 times. If you need some extra support, you can keep your hands under your thigh as you lift your leg.


Dandasana knee press

Staying in staff pose, place a rolled-up bath towel under the right knee. Keeping the heel down to the ground, press the knee down towards the towel as much as you can. Hold for 5 breaths and release. Repeat 10 times on your right knee, and then repeat on your left knee.

Dandasana heel press

Place the rolled-up towel under the right ankle. Maintaining the posture, press the heel downwards to squeeze the towel. Hold for 5 breaths and release. Repeat 10 times on the right foot, then 10 times on the left foot.


Dandasana knee squeeze

Place the rolled-up towel in between the knees. Squeeze the knees together towards the towel and hold for 5 breaths and release. Repeat 10 times.


Mountain pose (Tadasana) to tiptoes

Come into a standing position. Feet slightly apart, arms beside the body with open palms facing forward. Inhale and exhale, with the next inhalation, start to lift the heels off the ground and balance on the ball of the feet. With the exhalation, lower your heels back down to the ground. If you feel very unbalanced, take support of a wall or the back of a chair. Repeat this 10 times.


Chair or chair against wall (Utkatasana)

Starting in the mountain pose, inhale to lift the arms upwards toward the sky. As you exhale, slowly bend your knees and lower your buttocks down to come into a narrow squat. Make sure that the knees are not passing over the toes. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Inhale to lift back up to mountain pose. Repeat 10 times. Make sure that your neck stays in line with the spine. If this is very challenging for you, see if you can perform this along the wall. Keep your back and the back of your hips touching the wall, walk your feet out and bend the knees so that your knees are as close to right angled as possible. Push the back into the wall and, at the same time, push the soles of your feet down towards the ground. Maintaining your breathing, hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Inhale to lift back up. Repeat 10 times.

Bridge (Setu bandhasana)

Come into a supine position, lying on your back. Bend your knees to bring the sole of your feet onto the ground about hip-width apart. Try to bring the heels stacked in the same line to the knees. As you inhale, lift the hips up towards the sky. Maintaining your breath push the feet into the ground at the same time you push the hips upwards. Be careful that your knees do not spread out or in as you lift the hips. Maintain this position for 5 to 10 breaths. With your exhalation, release the hips gently back down to the ground. Repeat 10 times.


Corpse pose (Savasana)

Stay in the supine position. Keeps the legs slightly apart and relaxed. Arms out to the side, slightly away from the body. Relax your body, close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Stay for 2 to 5 minutes.

These asanas can increase the strength of the muscles supporting the knee, increase blood flow, lubricate joints and reduce inflammation by stimulation synovial fluids in joints. It is a good practice for anyone who has weak knees or regularly experience knee pain.


Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Founder, Yoga Bliss Gambia and Yoga Bliss Creations
Melissa Daswani is a professional yoga teacher trained and accredited in Hatha Yoga from Rishikesh, India. She was introduced to yoga in the early adolesce by her mother who often practised yoga at their home and still continues to practice to date.
Melissa started to indulge in yoga with a keen interest in her 20’s after researching the benefits of practising yoga.
In order to expand her knowledge and practice, she initially enrolled on official training in India during 2009. Her initial stint in yoga teaching began in 2012 in Togo, followed by expanding in the Gambia from 2016. Melissa’s style of teaching incorporates the fundamental and crucial steps of yoga called Hatha yoga, which encompasses the basis of all other styles of yoga. Melissa believes that every individual has something to gain from Yoga which is not limited to mental, physical or spiritual.
Yoga is not a religion but more a spiritual exercise as well as a practice that can universally be incorporated into your daily routine. Melissa offers regular weekly classes in Fajara, the Gambia, which is open to all levels.
She also runs a weekly beach yoga class which is very refreshing and energizing.
It’s her love and dedication towards teaching which allows her the opportunity to share the essence of yoga and its benefits to people from all walks of life.
Whether you reside in the Gambia or a visitor in The Gambia, Yoga Bliss Gambia would love to welcome you to their next class.

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