The base of all asanas whether of hatha yogaor ashtanga yoga is joint exercise. The yoga beginners start practice with exercise for opening knee, ankle & elbow.

Hatha yoga is mostly physical. The traditional yoga techniques start with joint exercise. It is must for yoga beginners. For stability in asanas, you need strong body with flexibility and resistance to bear movement. From beginner to advance level, this is beneficial to yoga practitioners preparing for asana. It is a preparation for sitting position in ashtanga yoga. For yoga and meditation, stability in asanas depends on suppleness of knee, ankle & elbow.

  • A soft & gentle exercise
  • Opens-up stiff joints & muscles
  • Increase flexibility of joints
  • Induces strength to muscles
  • Equally distribute body weight

The three basic joint exercises for hatha yoga teachers training are toe & ankle, knee and for hip joints:

Joint Exercise for Toe & Ankle

Toe and ankle gives balance and support to your whole body weight. The basic joint exercise are toe bending, ankle bending & ankle rotation. It gives strength to toe and ankle. It improves the blood circulation and also improves flexibility in lower part of body.

 Toe Bending (Padanguli Naman)

  • Sit with straight open legs
  • Move toes backward & forward
  • Inhale for backward move
  • Exhale for forward move
  • Hold each for few seconds
  • Practice 10 rounds

 Ankle Bending (Goolf Naman)

  • Sit with arms support
  • Bend forward & then backward
  • Stretch feet forward to touch floor
  • Inhale for backward & exhale for forward
  • Practice 10 rounds   

Ankle Rotation (Goolf Chakra)

  • Sit in floor comfortably
  • Rotate foot clockwise
  • Move anti-clockwise
  • Practice 10 rounds each

Ankle Crank (Goolf Ghoornan)

  • Sit with straight legs
  • Turn right foot upwards while bend the right knee
  • Rotate right foot clockwise & then anticlockwise
  • Repeat the same with left foot (1o times each)
  • Inhale for upward & exhale for downward move

Joint Exercise for Knee

Knee bending & knee crank are two joint exercise top open up your knees so it that you can move and rotate your legs comfortably needed for higher practice of asanas. The mobility and flexibility of legs depend on the strength of the knee, ligament and knee joint.

Knee Bending (Janu Naman)

  • Sit on floor comfortably
  • Bend right knee with thigh upwards
  • Clutch both hands under folded thigh
  • Extend your legs with support from knee
  • Practice 10 rounds each (by rotation)

Knee Crank (Janu Chakra)

  • Sit straight with ease
  • Fold right knee & hold arms
  • Rotate lower leg after raising right foot
  • Inhale on raising & exhale while lowering
  • Rotate 10 times

Joint Exercise for Hip Joints

For cross-legged asanas like lotus pose and ease pose, strength of hips matters the most. Butterfly exercise & hip rotation is soothing exercise for toning up the knee and hip joints. This hip joint exercise is vital to the yoga and meditation course.  It relaxes the buttock muscles.

Half Butterfly (Ardha Titali Asana)

  • Sit on floor with cross-legged
  • Place right hand on top of right knee
  • Hold right toes for few seconds
  • Straighten the toes after practice

Full Butterfly (Poorna Titali Asana)

  • Sit comfortably on floor
  • Bend legs from knees and join soles
  • Gently knees upwards & downwards
  • Practice for 10-12 times
  • Straighten the legs & relax

Hip Rotation (Shroni Chakra)

  • Sit comfortably on floor with straight legs
  • Place gently right foot on left thigh
  • Rotate right foot in circular motion
  • Inhale on upward & exhale on downward action
  • Practice this for 10 rotations
  • Straighten the legs gently & relax

 Joint Exercise for Hand, Wrist & Elbow

Hand, wrist and elbow are prominent feature in basic to advanced yoga asana series.  Wrist joint rotation is useful for the smooth flexibility in hands movement. Similarly, elbow bending, elbow rotation and hand clenching are useful during arthritis and stiffness in muscles.

Hand Clenching (mushtika bandhana)

  • Sit in floor with cross-legged pose
  • Stretch hand longer & hold both arms
  • Stretch fingers as wide as possible
  • Close your fingers making fist & then open
  • Inhale on opening & exhale on closing fist
  • Repeat ten times

Wrist Bending (manibandha naman)

  • Sit in floor with cross-legged pose
  • Stretch your arms at shoulder height
  • Bend hands forward/backward from the wrists
  • Keep elbows straight during entire practice
  • Inhale for backward & exhale for forward movement

Wrist Joint Rotation (manibandha chakra)

  • Sit in floor with cross-legged pose
  • Stretch your right arm at shoulder height
  • Make a fist & rotate making large circle
  • Practice 10 times each (clockwise & anticlockwise)
  • Repeat the same with left fist

Elbow Rotation (kehuni chakra)

  • Sit in floor with cross-legged pose
  • Stretch right arm at shoulder height
  • Bend right arm at elbow
  • Rotate the elbow joint clockwise
  • Inhale on upward & exhale on downward motion
  • Practice 10 times

Joint Exercise for Shoulder & Neck

Shoulder rotation is simple and easy exercise to relieve the pressure in shoulder. Neck movements release all pressure and tensions in the neck & shoulder region of your body. It gently removes the stiffness and heaviness in the shoulder & neck.

Shoulder Socket Rotation (skandha chakra)

  • Sit on floor with cross-legged
  • Place fold hands on shoulders
  • Rotate both elbows making large circle
  • Repeat 10 times clockwise & anti-clockwise
  • Inhale on upward & exhale on downward motion

Neck Movements (greeva sanchalana)

  • Sit on floor with cross-legged
  • Gently move the shoulder forward/backward
  • Rotate head clockwise & anticlockwise
  • Inhale on upward & exhale on downward movement
  • Practice 10 times each
Written by : Yogi Simant

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