By Andrea the Yogi
“I’ve had a knee replacement, so my yoga days are over.” WRONG!! “But I will never be able to kneel on my new knee again!” Also WRONG! Once getting cleared by your surgeon, yoga will do wonders for your knee replacement recovery.
After your knee replacement, no one expects to gain full range of motion. Normally post-surgery we work towards 120 degrees of knee flexion (bend). This is hard work, but with determination it is possible.
If your goal is to be able to kneel, we can work up to that! When I first started my yoga journey I attended class with a wonderful lady who had a knee replacement. She worked her way up to kneeling through yoga. It takes work but you too can do it!
Once you are able to bend your knee at least 90 degrees you can begin your journey to kneeling (your doctor and therapist will tell you when you are ready.) The first step is working on building your tolerance to kneeling. This can be done by kneeling on a padded surface. There are many types of foam kneeling pads, and you can find one at your local craft store. In the beginning, we want a thicker pad to give more cushion. As you get more comfortable kneeling on thick foam, you can slowly decrease the thickness of the foam until you are able to kneel on just your yoga mat! While kneeling on your foam, experiment with different amounts of weight on your new knee. Eventually, you will be able to have your weight evenly on both knees. Just remember to take breaks. Your other joints are working hard, so give them a rest.
If kneeling is not your goal or just doing it is uncomfortable, have no fear. Yoga is still for you. Any yoga pose can be modified! Just ask your yoga instructor for tips and modifications!
For the at-home practitioner, some simple kneeling modifications can include decreasing the weight on your knee or decreasing the bend of your knee. Modify kneeling poses like tabletop (Bharmanasana) by straightening your knee so your leg is in more of a push-up position. Take more pressure off your new knee by shifting your weight to your upper appendages: Forward to your arms, or to your nonsurgical side. Just remember to give those other joints rest. You may find you are gradually able to increase the bend in your knee!
Most importantly, listen to your body. It will tell you what you can tolerate. Whether your goal is kneeling or being more healthy, yoga is for everyone!