Why Locking the Knee is so important in Bikram Yoga

How many times in class do you hear the teacher shouting  “Lock the Knee, lock the knee, lock the kStanding-Head-to-Knee-2.jpgnee!!”?

Locking the Knee is possibly one of the most misunderstood principles in Bikram Yoga.  In this blog, we’ll unlock (no pun intended) some of the myths by explaining why locking the knee is so important.

First let’s clear one thing up.  What it is NOT. Locking the knee is NOT jamming your knee back as far as you can and trying to balance on it.

Physically, when you “lock your knee” in a balancing posture in Bikram Yoga, you are contracting your quadriceps muscles in the front of your leg, and therefore releasing the hamstring sending the message via the nervous system for it to stretch.

In the beginning this may feel uncomfortable, even painful because the nerves are not used to the stretch and will send pain messages to the brain.  Our first impulse is to pull back, to avoid pain at all costs. However, if you want to improve stretch tolerance i.e. get more flexible, you may need to take the stretch to a point of pain. “Pain kills the pain”.  This is not to say that you should be in tears, gritting your teeth and holding your breath but if you don’t take a stretch to a point of pain, you are not likely overloading your nervous system well enough to improve stretch tolerance, to get more flexible!

A key principle in Bikram Yoga is that you are trying to overload the nervous system to increase your stretch tolerance. That is how you become more flexible, decrease the risk of injury and relax your nervous system so that it is less sensitive and therefore your body will stretch.

Put simply, the only way to improve your flexibility is to improve the function of your nervous system.  You’ll notice that when you are concentrating on locking the knee, you are less likely to fall out of the pose.  Why, because you ARE concentrating!

What does Locking the knee look like?

You know you are locking your knee when you see your kneecap raise and muscles bunched above the knee, this indicates that the qkneeuadriceps muscles are being contracted.

There are 4 muscles in the quadricep femoris muscle group in the front of your leg. The one that is hardest to “turn on” is the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) on the inside of the leg just above the knee.  Its job is to extend the length of the thigh and to stabilize the patella (knee cap) so your knee tracks correctly.

The VMO muscle is a common centre of weakness in many people because it will not become fully strengthened unless the leg is regularly extended fully.  It becomes more fully activated when the knee is at a greater angle, especially when the leg is completely extended.

As we age, the VMO muscle is the first muscle that we will start to lose.  As it weakens this can bring problems with the knee, surrounding structure and cause chronic aching pain.

The good news…

Locking the knee is a highly effective way of building your VMO strength while also building density as you are standing and weight loading at the same time. And, you are completely normal if you find locking the knee very hard.  It is hard.  That is why you must CONCENTRATE to try to do it.  This is how concentration improves your physical health!

The struggle in your mind as you try to keep the knee locked instills discipline. Learning discipline in the room helps us apply discipline in our lives.  Ultimately, how we apply ourselves to the job of locking the knee is a metaphor to how we apply ourselves to the job of living.

 6

0

7 Reasons why Yoga is a Great Gift for Dads!

In honour of Fathers’ Day and all the dads out there, here’s 7 reasons why yoga is great for ALL Dads!

 

  1. Doing Yoga regularly gives you more TIME

We all know that Yoga is designed to improve your joint mobility and your flexibility, but it also gives you way more energy, and sharpens focus and concentration, so dad will be EVEN more productive at work, so he can spend less hours there and more time with you, his loving family!

  1. Yoga gives you Energy

When you do yoga regularly, you don’t need energy drinks, coffee or sugar, or anything else. (Although you might still like them anyway!) You can keep up with the kids, in fact you might even beat them!

  1. Yoga is great for your back

After 40, more people suffer with back pain than don’t. Yoga is one of the most effective ways to improve back pain. So dad can easily put on the socks you bought him for Fathers day!

  1. Yoga reduces stress

Stress is the number one cause of illness in Australia.

Stress is not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you. Yoga provides you with a toolset to deal with what happens to you and so reduce stress levels, whatever the situation.

  1. Yoga doesn’t need skills

You don’t need to be “good” at bikram yoga to benefit from it. It’s designed for beginners. You just need to turn up, put your toes on the line and try and you’ll come out the other end of 90 minutes feeling like you’ve had an incredible workout.

  1. Age is irrelevant

Yoga is quite unique activity in that it’s something you get better at as you get older! Bikram Yoga appeals to all ages and both sexes. At Brookvale, we have people in their 70s in the room doing their yoga beside teenagers.  Everyone is welcome, everyone can feel comfortable and we love it that way!

  1. Yoga is perfect for Dads who bodies are worn and torn from years of sport

Maybe dad was an ace footy player in his day and now his knees are shot, he played cricket obsessively and he’s living with chronic back pain or his time as a secret agent took a toll on his body. 🙂

Whatever, yoga is perfect for the dad who thinks he can’t do much anymore. Bikram is specifically designed to help to relieve chronic pain plus give you a cardio workout and help flexibility. A one stop body workshop!!2

0

7 Tips for your first Bikram Yoga class from a new student

The truth about your first ever Bikram class!adjusted IMG_0983

We get new students coming to try out Bikram Yoga every day, and many curious phone calls and emails.  We know it’s a big deal, your first class, so we thought we’d share with you a blog from one of our brand new students. Bethany took her first class last week, so she really is fresh out of the box!

After months of being stubborn and making poor excuses, the need to include some sort of yoga practice into my training became more and more apparent as the winter months progresses. I heard a lot of tales about Bikram before I managed to pluck up the courage to take a class.... read more

 4

0