6 Steps To Soothe Knee Pain Naturally With Yoga

soothe knee pain naturally with yoga in 6 steps

Soothe knee pain naturally with yoga

There is no roadmap for life. There is no “how to.” The same is true for our bodies. What may work today may not work tomorrow or it may take on a different series of events. A + B doesn’t always equal C. One morning, I may really need to stretch my low back. The next morning, maybe my low back is fine but my neck is tight.

The body is always giving us clues about where we hold our stress or what we need to give more attention to. Things are always changing and it’s important we don’t get too attached to the way things are currently or specific “rules” or order. Fortunately, we have a variety of natural tools we can pick and choose from to combine in various ways to find relief. And when it comes to our bodies, combining curiosity and movement can be our best friend. Exploring, noticing and softening can soothe those built up stressors we have been hanging on to.

I recently started running again.

I like to power walk, then run for a bit, then walk, alternating between the two. I’m sure to take small strides and can feel when my hips are tight (I like to practice a low lunge and pigeon series before I go out). Yesterday, while running, I was aware that it was more than tight hips and hip flexors (psoas). It was actually an imbalance in my pelvis. I have struggled with this issue since the birth of my son in 2014 and continue to take great care in accommodating the issue.

After my time in the woods, running and walking, my right knee was screaming. I felt as thought I could barely make it back to the car. Through my personal practice and exploration, I discovered that my left hip dives forward (the top of the iliac crest) when it is out of alignment. Because of this, my body compensates by tightening my right IT band and quad muscle, which then pulls on my knee.

I slowly made it home and began some self care to ease the pain. I knew my knee needed movement. Sometimes that is not always the case, but today it was. I want to share with you what I did in this blog so if you’re suffering, you can find relief too. The three yoga postures below help to realign the pelvis and can be found in my book, Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health.

Before I practiced this short yoga sequence, I used a foam roller and carefully rolled out my buttocks, hamstrings, calf muscles, IT band (side of the hip and thigh) and quad muscles (top of the thighs). I moved slowly and mindfully, careful to not cause myself more pain, but staying with the intensity and tightness in my legs. I used my breath to soften both my mind and body. I was sure to step with care after my practice and not move too fast or lift heavy things often… including my toddler, which was a little challenging at times. Fortunately though, he likes to walk around like a big boy, holding my hand or being “my helper.”

Later that evening—after the day was done—I laid down with a bolster under my legs and iced my knee on and off for 20 minutes, for an hour. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning free from knee pain and limping. I found the relief I was looking for! My legs felt so much better and there was no trace of any pain in my knee. I noticed I was still protecting my knee in my morning practice but did my best to notice and soften, notice and soften.

I’ve learned, and I teach my students, that the best part of these tools are that we can mix and match them, playing with what feels best each time we choose self care to relieve pain without drugs.

There is so much wisdom in the body when we slow down and listen.


*OPTION – Reclined ½ Crescent and Side Lying Quad Stretch can be done standing with feet hips width apart and balancing next to a wall.


Use a foam roller to roll out tension in the buttocks, hamstrings, calf muscles, side of thighs (IT band) and tops of thighs (Quads).

STEP 2: Reclined ½ Crescent

This side opening position creates space in the hip, intercostal muscles of the ribs and top shoulder. As the side of the hip opens, tension in the pelvis dissolves, the hip flexors are gently stretched and breathing muscles soften. Deeper breaths create ease in the muscles and the mind.

While practicing this pose, the second chakra—the sacral chakra—and the third chakra—the solar plexus—are awakened, and emotional intelligence has the space to grow. The abilities to create healthy boundaries and gracefully move with the flow of life, without resistance to change, are enhanced. The energies of the right to act as your true self, connection to self-confidence and personal power with balanced self-esteem and ego-strength are boosted. 

Reclined half crescent pose - yoga for knee pain
  • Lie flat on the back with a blanket (long rectangle fold) under the head and the legs lengthened.
  • Draw both legs over to the right side. Cross the left ankle over the right ankle.
  • Inhale and stretch the arms overhead (the arms can rest by your sides if drawing them overhead isn’t accessible). Bring the arms and shoulders over to the right, creating a crescent shape with the body. For more stretch, grab onto the left wrist and gently tug. Release the wrist after a few breaths and allow the arms to rest naturally on the earth.
  • Feel free to cover up with a blanket, place a blanket on the belly (large rectangle fold) for weight or use an eye pillow.
  • Close the eyes and breathe slowly. Visualize the breath cascading through the side body, from fingers to toes.
  • Hold each side for 3-5 minutes.
  • To transition to the other side: uncross the ankles and bring the legs back to center. Bring the arms and shoulders back to center and take a full body stretch, reaching from fingertips to toes. Follow same instruction for the left side.
  • To release: uncross the ankles and bring the legs back to center. Bring the arms and shoulders back to center and pause for a full body stretch. Option: hug the knees into the chest, place the hands on top of each knee and circle the knees in the same direction. Come onto your most comfortable side and take a few deep breaths before transitioning.

STEP 3: Side Lying Quad Stretch

Stretching open the large muscles of the thigh in this extremely gentle way helps to realign the pelvis and release tension in the front of the hip and leg. This stretch is also beneficial for the knee and ankle joints.

Relieve knee pain with therapeutic yoga - side lying quad stretch
  • Lie flat on the back with a blanket (long rectangle fold) under the head and knees bent, feet flat on the earth.
  • Slowly lie on your right side.
  • Bend the left leg, reach back and grab the top of the foot. If the foot isn’t accessible, place a strap around the foot and draw the strap close to the buttocks.
  • Keep the right leg straight or bend it.
  • Draw the left foot in close to the buttocks, stretching open the front of the thigh. For more stretch, draw the knee slightly back but be sure you are not feeling any pain in the knee.
  • Soften the shoulders and breathe into the stretch in the front of the thigh.
  • Hold for 1-2 minutes.
  • To transition to the other side: gently release the left foot and roll flat on the back. Without rushing and being mindfully aware of movements, slowly roll onto the left side. Follow instructions for the right side.
  • To release: gently release the foot and take a few breaths on your side before transitioning.

STEP 4: Reclined Knee Down Twist

This twist is a way to unwind the spine while opening the chest, shoulder, arm and lymph glands. It’s a gentle way to move out remaining compression or tension in the low back. It is also detoxing and deep breaths gently massage abdominal organs.

Relieve knee pain with therapeutic yoga - reclined knee down twist pose
  • Lie flat on the back with a blanket (long rectangle fold) under the head.
  • Keep left leg lengthened and hug the right knee into the chest.
  • Step the right foot on the left thigh and use the left hand to draw the right knee to the left, coming into the twist. The foot can stay on the leg or come down to the earth if that’s more comfortable.
  • Right arm opens out like a wing.
  • Both shoulders rest on the earth, but you can roll onto the left hip to maximize the twist.
  • Keep the head at center, gazing up, or turn the gaze over the extended arm to take the twist up into the neck.
  • Breathe 2-4 minutes on each side.
  • To transition to the other side: come back to center with both hips on the earth. Hug left knee in and straighten right leg. Follow same instruction for the left side.
  • To release: come back to center, with both hips on the earth, releasing the twist. Feel free to practice Reclined Knee Hug (both knees) to gently stretch and reset the spine to neutral for 5-10 deep breaths.

STEP 5: Ice and rest

Resting with support under legs and ice on and off for 20 minutes for an hour.

STEP 6: Take it slow

Walk with care and no heavy lifting.


Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health - Cyndi RobertsThis pose is from my book, “Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health”. In it, you’ll find easy gentle and restorative yoga instruction that anyone can do. You’ll be feeling better in no time, without drugs or surgery. No experience needed: it’s perfect for beginners and advanced yogis alike.

What’s in the book?

  • Over 200 pages of in-depth and appropriate instruction
  • 43 restorative and gentle yoga poses
  • 15 practical and unique yoga sequences. Practice at your convenience—no pressure to get to a packed studio class at an inconvenient time!
  • Includes over 300 high-resolution images to help you along

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