Asanas for People with Ankle Problems

Author: Nathalie Hell

Nowadays, a lot of people have ankle problems.  Some people have pain because of surgery or because of a sprain.  Other people lack flexibility and cannot do many movements without pain.   In the book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, written by Louise L. Hay, she said that ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure and that inflexibility and guilt are probable causes of ankle problems.  Of course, we know that the mind and body are connected together and in order to remove the pain, you need to work on your body and mind at the same time.  Body and mind needs to be balanced.     The best ways to balance this pair is the yoga.  Nevertheless, you need to practice carefully to avoid increasing your problem.  You need to choose the positions that can help you to remove the pain and increase your flexibility, the ones that will reinforce your ankle.  What asanas should people with ankle problems do?

Yoga proposes a lot of postures with different benefits and different levels of difficulty.  A person needs to accept his or her limit.  The most important thing to remember is do not push your body.      In order to have all the benefits of asanas, you need to maintain and stay in the most comfortable position possible.  In the book, “Bible of Yoga”, written by B.K.S. Iyengar, the author recommends different asanas for people with ankle problems.  You can easily incorporate some positions in your daily practice.  Only one posture starts in supine pose and flows into prone pose, but the majority of positions star in sitting or standing pose. 

The position starting in supine pose is SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA.  To take this posture: 

Raise the left leg up to ninety degrees.  

Keep the right leg straight on the floor and put the right hand on the right thigh.  

Catch the big left toe with the thumb, index finger, and middle finger of the left hand.  

Exhaling, raise the head and chest, bending the left elbow and bringing the left leg near the head without bending the knees.

Maintain the posture for twenty seconds, keeping your right leg straight in the floor. 

Inhale, releasing the the position by removing the hand and bringing the head, chest, and left leg back to the floor.  Come back to complete supine position.  

Repeat the movement with the right leg.  

Supta Padangusthasana increases the blood circulation in the legs, hips, and ankles.  Also, nerves are regenerated in this position.  

Few positions begin in prone pose.  Two of these positions activate the blood circulation: DHANURASANA and SHALABHASANA.  “Dhanu” means bow, thus the English name for this pose is “Bow Pose”.  “Shalbha” means “Locust”, so the translation is “Locust Pose”.  The next asana that B.K. S. Iyengar recommends is  ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA.  “Adho mukha” means “face down on the floor” and “svana” means “dog”.  This asana is very similar to the downward dog pose.  The difference between the two postures is that for adha mukha svanasana, the top of the head is on the floor.  The last asana in prone pose is BHEKASANE, also called HANDUKASANA.  “Bheka” means “Frog”.  In this posture, the body will have a frog shape.  This position is supposed to help heal, as well as strengthen, the ankles.  

There are more asanas that start in sitting position.  One posture is called VIRASANA and is similar to vajrasan.  The different between the two postures is that in virasana, the buttock is on the floor and the ankles are beside the buttock.  This asana stretches the ankles.  There is an advanced poses of virasana called  SUPTA VIRASANA.  You need to take the virasana pose, then bring your back to the floor and pull the arms over the head.  It is a very good asana for people suffering from leg pain.  This posture relieves pain in the legs.  Another asana is BADDHA KONASANA.  “Baddha” means “catch” and “Kona” means “angle.  In this posture, you take the butterfly pose and bring your heels near the perineum.  Catch your feet and open your thighs until your knees touch the floor.  Bend your waist and bring your chin to the mat.  This posture improves the flexibility of the ankles.  The next asana is TRIANG MUKHAIK APADA PASCHIMOTTANASANA.  Bend the right leg in the knee and place the foot near the right thigh.  Keep the left leg straight and try to balance in this position.  Catch your left food with both hands, bend your waist, and bring your head on to your knee.  After, do the same thing with the opposite leg.  This posture heals the twisted ankle and twisted knee and decreases inflammation of the leg.  There is an advanced pose for triang mukhaikapada paschimottasana that is called KROUNCASANA.  The difference between the two positions is that for krouncasana, the straight leg is raised up until the knee touches to the face.  This asana has the same effect as traing mukhaikapada.  The pose AAKARNA DHANURASANA TYPE I and II stretches the ankles.  

Of course, some asanas start in standing position.  TRIKANASANA and the advanced version called PARIVARTA TRIKANASANA are beneficial to the ankles.  Both reinforce this part of the body.  There is also a pose called VIRASANA in the Yoga Pravesh book, or VIRABHA DRASANA TYPE I in the Bible of Yoga.  This position supplies blood to the legs.  The next posture is UGRASAN which has a stretching effect on the ankles.    The next standing postures helpful for the ankles are SANKATASANA (the Difficult Pose) and the advanced pose named GARUDASANA, or Eagle Pose.  The benefit of these two postures is that the joint of the ankle is stretched.  

To conclude, I say that all standing balancing poses have a beneficial effect on the ankles.  Nevertheless, these postures must be practiced carefully.  The practitioners need to accept their limits.  They need to carefully select the asanas to be practiced.  The best way is to do the postures slowly and with control, maintaining the pose.  The ankles will become more flexible and the pain will be relieved.  Of course, you need to be patient and practice sincerely and regularly.

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