Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evert to Avert Knee Pain

A few days ago I took my first yoga class since arthroscopic surgery on my right knee (10 days prior).

I'm feeling really good.

But I noticed that my knee was tender and a bit unstable in poses in which I was down on the floor with my knee bent and thigh externally rotated.

Specifically, I very carefully did agni stambhasana (fire log pose), eka pada raja kapotasana variation (one-leg lord of the pigeon pose), janu sirsasana (knee head pose), and simple cross-legged sitting, like sukhasana (easy pose).

In each of these poses I tended to point my toe and invert the ankle so that the sole of my foot faced up.

If you look at the pictures that are linked to each of the Sanskrit pose names above, you'll see that in all but one the yogi has his or her toe pointed and the sole of the foot facing up, just like me.

What does it mean to invert the ankle? Many call this "sickling." It's when you 'turn' the foot so the outside of your ankle bulges out. When you do it, the foot is shaped like a sickle.

Even we who know zilch about old agricultural techniques know what a sickle looks like. It was the symbol of the former USSR. I saw it all the time when I was a kid.

When your feet are sickled, the peroneus longus muscle that runs down the outside of the lower leg, is lax. Wake up the peroneus and you add stability and integrity to the knee. And for me, knee pain disappeared.

You wake up the peroneus by flexing the ankle (or more technically correct, dorsiflexing) and everting the heel.

When you evert, the outside of the ankle no longer bulges out. It draws in. The area under the outside ankle bone is hollowed. And running down the outside edge of your lower leg you'll see what I call a "racing stripe". It's a long trough that indicates the peroneus muscle is active.

Look at the first picture in this Daily Yoga Tip. You'll see the woman doing agni stambhasana has her feet flexed and both heels everted.

By creating this action, she protects her knees. You can do it, too.

Evert. It does your knees good. (Hint: Look back at your ankles in downward facing dog pose. Are the sickled? Or everted?)

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was pada. Pada means foot or leg, as in eka pada rajakapotasana, the one-leg lord of the pigeons pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is janu. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., I wrote about some other things you can do to help nix knee pain in my Daily Yoga Tip on May 31, 2005. It's called "More Knee Pain?" You can read it here.

p.p.p.p.s., Join us for the "Foundations of Teaching Yoga" workshop this Saturday in Fulton, MO. If you have a desire to teach yoga and you currently study and practice yoga, you're invited to participate in this 6-hour workshop. It's by donation only.

You must register in advance by calling Sandy Conner Otto at Natural Focus Yoga Studio. She is our host for the day.

Email me, or call, if you have questions at

And, we'll be coming back the next day, Sunday afternoon, for a 3-hour session of meditation and yoga philosophy. It begins at 1:00 pm. Again, this workshop is by donation only. Please call Sandy for more information and to register.

p.p.p.p.p.s., When I wrote the "Sing Your Yoga" Daily Yoga Tip a few days ago, I didn't expect to hear so many responses from you, my wonderful readers. Thank you.

I mentioned in that Daily Yoga Tip that you can sometimes get extra focus by saying what you want to do as you do it.

I especially loved a message I got from Beth in Northern Virginia. She said, "I also wanted to mention the power of silent practice. Sometimes I get distracted in yoga class by all of the instructions. I want to know the intructions but at the same time, a silent class, in which you are practicing together with other people yet everyone is left to connect to his or her own center without having to come outside to attend to words, can deepen your experience temendously and heighten your inner awareness nad your connection between mind and body."

I couldn't agree more.

Yoga literally means to integrate opposites. So maybe it's not so odd to one day advise you to talk while doing yoga, and the next day suggest you remain silent.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737


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