Which Yoga Poses To Avoid With Bad Knees


Yoga can be an effective way to improve muscular and joint health, but often those with bad knees need to take extra precautions when doing poses that may strain or overextend the knee joint. It is important to understand which yoga poses should be avoided with bad knees in order to prevent further injury or irritation while still being able to reap the benefits of stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint. The key is to find modifications that will give stability and improved range of motion without overextending or straining the knee joint.

Some specific yoga poses you should avoid with bad knees include deep squats, forward folds (especially heels-down varieties), side bends, crescent lunge, hopping movements and anything requiring extreme flexion (bending) at the knee. On the flipside, there are plenty of modifications available for these poses that involve using props such as bolsters and blocks in order to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints or compressing them too much. Other helpful postural adjustments for those with bad knees include keeping most of your weight balanced between your legs rather than shifting into one leg only; working on hip mobility; and using pillows placed under each knee for additional support during seated postures like Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose).

Understanding how best to modify poses for their individual physical needs is a critical part of practicing yoga safely and managing knee issues successfully. Not only can this help ensure that postures don’t become painful or cause further stress to already vulnerable joints, it also allows practitioners despite their limited mobility to experience all of the benefits that come along with yoga practice: increased strength and balance, improved flexibility, greater body awareness and a sense of calming relaxation.

Causes of Bad Knee Pain

Bad knee pain can be caused by a variety of issues, including age-related changes, overuse of the joint or muscle strain. The most common causes are weak quadriceps and hamstrings, leading to issues such as chondromalacia patella (worn cartilage due to misalignment) and runner’s knee. Other issues involve tendonitis and meniscus tears. It’s also possible to experience swelling in the area or instability when putting pressure on it.

When practicing yoga with bad knees, you should avoid poses that put too much pressure on the joint or use extreme ranges of motion. Knee pain can worsen if these types of poses are practiced without modification. Common poses to avoid include those that require deep bending of the knees, such as warriors one and two and squatting poses like Wide Legged Child’s Pose or Chair pose. Avoid jumping movements and try to practice more gentler poses instead that have classic alignment principles built into them so you don’t disrupt your hip-knee alignment. If additional knee support is required, opt for props such as blocks and belts for stability before attempting deeper postures with bad knees. Seeking guidance from a qualified teacher can help ensure that any practice is tailored safely to your physical limitations because pain has its limits!

Yoga Poses Energy

Common Modifications

One of the most common modifications for poses that can cause knee pain is to avoid full range of motion. Instead, focus on movement ranges where the knees are comfortable and can maintain alignment with the hips and feet. If a pose involves a lunge or squat position, place a pillow or block beneath the feet and shift weight back to keep the knee joints stable while simultaneously avoiding any discomfort. If holding a squatting position, stay up on your toes when possible, as this places less pressure on the joint than if staying flat-footed. During seated poses such as Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana), you can sit on a folded blanket in order to keep your hips elevated so your knees don’t have to sink too far toward the mat. Finally, make sure that you are engaging muscles around your knees correctly; specifically engaging the quadriceps and hamstrings correctly during poses like Warrior 2 can help protect from knee discomfort.

Types of Poses to Avoid

General Guidelines:

• Standing poses: Avoid all standing poses, including Warrior I and II, Chair, Triangle, Revolved Triangle, and Half-Moon. Additionally, bending the knees beyond 90 degrees should be avoided in all standing poses.

• Balancing poses: Avoid balancing on one foot at a time in both standing and sitting postures—including Tree Pose or Eagle Pose. It’s also best to stay away from Balance Postures between two legs like Dancer’s Pose or Side Plank with Bent Knee.

• Twisting Poses: Twists that involve sitting with most of the weight on one buttock should be avoided when possible—like Bharadvaja’s Twist. Additionally, twists should avoid military-style organizing of the spine to reduce compression while twisting.

• Forward bends: All forward bends should involve bending the knees somewhere within the pose (whether seated or standing). This helps spread out the force so it doesn’t concentrate in any one area and helps keep more even pressure throughout the joint. These include Seated Forward Bend and Downward Dog with bent knees variations among others.

Benefits of Modification

Yoga is a great form of exercise and it can provide numerous benefits for people with bad knees. However, some worry that certain poses can cause more harm than good if performed incorrectly. Due to this, there are certain yoga poses that must be avoided if you have bad knees. These include extended duration and version of pose such as warrior I and II, half lotus pose, pyramid pose, dancer’s pose, three-legged down dog, bent knee wheel pose, half moon and bulging disc twists.

Fortunately, modifications to many of these poses exist that may alleviate the stress on your bad knees or even eliminate it altogether. These modified versions will still give you the same benefits of the original pose but will focus more heavily on breath-based elements rather than extremity based flexibility goals. This can help you to improve your body awareness as well as introduce a greater sense of meditation into your practice. In addition, overall strength building can be increased with more steady postures instead of dynamic ones that put extra strain on the knees during each movement. If a particular posture is still causing strain in its modified form then individual advice should be sought regarding an alternative option within the practice.

What Yoga Poses Open Hips

Sample Practices

Sample Practices and Sequences:

1. Supine Hip Openers: While lying on your back, practice bringing one knee to the chest and wrapping your hands or a belt around the ball of the foot. Gently pull the foot towards you for about 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

2. Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose Variation: Lying on your back, separate your feet wide apart. Begin by stretching one leg at a time, using a strap around the ball of the foot to support and protect your knee. After holding endurance for up to 1 minute each side you can walk the straps up higher- just below the knee joint- until it becomes uncomfortable and hold for another 30 seconds per side.

3. Supported Bridge Pose: Lie with your legs bent, feet hip width apart as close as you can get them to your buttocks so that most of your calf muscle is supported (can use a bolster or yoga block). Raise your hips up till they’re in line with your shoulders, propping yourself up with 2-3 blankets under your sacrum and shoulder area (higher or lower depending on how much pressure is comfortable in the knees). Hold for 5 breaths each side.

4. Half or Full Pigeon Pose Variation: From Downward Facing Dog pose, bring one leg forward with knee stacked above ankle (use a cushion beneath if needed). Use props such as bolsters behind you to support any weight off from the legs if necessary, be sure not to hyperextend both hips when leaning forwards into this pose- aim to keep them aligned! Hold for 10 breaths per side before switching legs.


It is important to understand how to modify yoga poses with bad knees so that you can practice yoga safely and reap the physical and mental benefits. While there are a variety of yoga poses that may not be suitable for those with bad knees, others can be safely modified according to your own physical limitations. By modifying your poses in this way, you can reap the many physical and mental benefits of yoga without risking further injury or aggravating existing knee pain. With proper care, understanding, and modification, you can use yoga to enhance both your mental wellbeing and physical health.

Send this to a friend