Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little monologue about closing the knee joints

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it."

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I did full primary this morning (my rest day is Sunday. Which brings up a superstitious thought: Does my not being able to get into padmasana upside down without my hands somehow have something to do with resting on Sundays instead of on Saturdays? I wonder if there is some astrological reason somewhere? Just wondering. But I'm probably just being superstitious.)

As I was doing all the padmasana and half padmasana variations this morning in primary, I tried to work on Frank's suggestion to try to engage the hamstrings to close the knee joint without using my hands. I wasn't entirely successful, but I made an interesting discovery: It appears that I can close my left knee joint more easily than my right. With my right leg, there's always a small gap between the heel/Achilles Tendon and the underside of the thigh, despite my best efforts. This gap becomes bigger as I move the right foot towards the left hip crease, so that by the time I actually get the right foot to the vicinity of the left hip crease (it never actually made it there, not without my hands having to intervene), the right knee joint is fully open.

Although there is also a tendency for the left knee joint to open as I move the left foot toward the right hip crease, I seem to have more success keeping the left heel/Achilles Tendon close to the left underside of the thigh, so that it is possible to actually get the left foot into an almost perfect half-lotus without the intervention of the hands.

So, it appears that there is some kind of an imbalance in my left and right sides. Whatever muscles are needed to bring the foot into half-lotus are more well-developed on the left side than on the right. Interesting, don't you think?

I think I'll continue to work on trying to close the right knee joint with as little intervention from the hands as possible. This seems like a worthwhile project.

Thank you for listening in on this knee-joint-closing monologue :-) 


  1. It is perfect that you start blogging about this because I am at the point I can do shoulder stand with half assed full lotus, if unassisted with hands. I entertained the idea of forcing with hands but thanks to your recent posts and warning to new ashtangis like me, I will instead take the harder course and work on my quad and hamstrings.

    Thank you.

  2. Hi Nobel, Have enjoyed your recent posts but have been unable to comment on my iphone, technical issues. Do you practice in shorts? If so have you tried spraying your thigh to help get into padmasana inverted. At home(colder) I practice in capris and they help my right foot slide into position, at he shala (hotter) I often use the garba spray to give me some slipperiness, I can do it without but this makes it much easier and safer for now I think. I guess if your sweaty you may not need this. Also and you may already do this, move the left leg away from you whilst it is still straight to give yourself space to get the right foot into position. As you and others have already discussed take good care of your knees. My right hip is also tighter than my left.

  3. very good to read this! brings motivation

  4. Hello Salena,
    Yes, when upside down, it is probably better to let the hips and hamstrings do more work, and to use the hands as sparingly as possible. I'm happy you found the discussion useful :-)

  5. Hello Helen,
    thanks for the suggestion. Yes, I practice in shorts. I've never been in the habit of using the Garbha spray, but I'll think about it. Moving the left foot away while it's straight sounds like a good idea too. I'll try this. Thanks!

    Thanks, lilasvb :-)