You suffer from knee pain or you have certain body injuries that limit your ability to perform certain yoga poses? There are many ways to adjust yoga poses and get the same benefits.
I love hiking and taking long walks so much that I often overdo it... and end up with knee and hip pains. Luckily enough, I am also a regular yoga practitioner with a great Iyengar teacher who helps me adapt my yoga practice in order to relax and ease these pains.
Here are some tips on adapting yoga poses to prevent knee pains (remember that you should not experience any pain in the knees while following below advices):
1 - Do not jump into poses. Gently walk into the pose.
2 - Spend time in vajrasana - thunderbolt pose or kneeling pose.
The kneeling pose of yoga where ankles, knees and legs are together.
If you can sit back on your heels without experiencing ankle pains, then do so. You can use a yoga strap on your ankles and round the low part of your thighs in order to give more alignment to your legs (bad daily posture can create unbalances and this helps correct them).
Modification 1 - ankle pain: place a yoga blanket under your feet
Modification 2 - your body is not flexible enough to sit back comfortably onto your heel bones: place as many blankets as needed on your heels so that you can sit comfortably & without tensing your body. Alternatively, you can place a yoga block, the edge of a bolster, or a yoga cushion between your feet and sit on it (this prop should not go as far as your legs).
Now, in high kneeling position, place the top of your head on the ground in order to place a rolled up blanket into the crease of the back of the knees and sit back down. The blanket opens up knee joints, lubricates the knees and help relax them.
Rest your hands on your thighs ensuring your back is straight and with your eyes looking straight..
You should stay for as long as 5 to 10 minutes in the pose. Start with 1 or 2 minutes if it feels too intense at the beginning. People who tend to suffer from knee pain should do it twice or three times daily. This pose is also a great exercise to prevent knee problems.