Many years ago I read a book by Mukunda Stiles called Structural Yoga Therapy. I loved the book and found it very helpful, but the one example I remember most was from the author’s own experience working with Warrior 2 pose. If I remember correctly, the author was not satisfied with the tracking of his knee in Warrior 2 and set out to correct it. So he would hold this pose for extended periods of time over and over, until he willed his knee into submission.
In viniyoga tradition we approach those types of issues in a radically different way. Instead of doing a “problematic” pose again and again aiming for what is perceived as “best form”, we back off from it and analyze which muscle imbalances are preventing us from doing the full manifestation of the pose. Then we use other poses to work on the same areas, strengthening what’s weak and increasing range of motion. In the example of Warrior 2 if the bent knee keeps drooping in, it is usually a result of tight adductors (inner thighs) and weak abductors (outer hips). There are many other ways we can approach those areas in non-weight bearing positions to minimize the risk for the knees. Usually after working with other poses for some time, it becomes much easier to attempt the original pose with less risk.
The moral of the story is that often it makes more sense to work around the issue instead of confronting it head-on. We get so used to “powering through” things in our daily lives; yet this kind of attitude can get us in trouble when we are trying to deal with structural challenges. In the yoga practice below instead of holding the knee in a “proper position” for extended periods of time, we target the muscles all around the joint – front and back, inside and outside, above and below. It is the balanced healthy relationship between all those areas that keeps our knees happy and strong. Give it a try and let me know what you think!