Updated: Jul 21, 2021
According to yoga, most pranic blockages begin in our joints. According to Ayurveda, ama, or toxic and undigested waste material, tends to settle in the empty spaces of our bodies, such as the joints. That is why we practise Sukshma Vyayama to purge ourselves of any impurities.
Instead of being stiff like a log of wood, our joints provide us with mobility by connecting two bones and allowing us to move. Our joints, however, are not simply made up of bones.
To keep our joints from deteriorating due to friction and erosion, we have tissues like cartilage and synovial fluid that help keep bones from grating against each other.
There are numerous factors that contribute to the health of our joints. These include proper nutrition, a well-balanced exercise regimen, good posture, stress management, and so on.
In this article, I'll go over some basic, traditional yogic movements for activating and mobilizing the joints. These take no more than 10 minutes per day and are beneficial to both our physical and mental health.
What is Sukshma Vyayama?
Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari introduced Sukshma Vyayama, an ancient technique of yogic postures and dynamic movements. Swami Dhirendra, an influential yoga teacher in his own right, was a student of Maharishi Kartikeya. He taught yoga to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was invited by the USSR to teach yoga to Soviet Cosmonauts. In fact, he established the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, also known as Vishwayatan Yogashram.
Yogic Sukshma Vyayama techniques are extremely powerful because they activate the subtle pranic body. Their advantages include improved memory, intellect, willpower, and sharpening of the senses.
How to Practice Sukshma Vyayama and Kriya Yoga Joint Activation Techniques
Sukshma Vyayama and Kriya yoga techniques inspired many of the joint activation movements I've shared below. We begin with the lowest joints, our toes, and work our way up to the neck. Each dynamic movement is repeated 5 to 10 times, and each static movement is held for 5 to 9 breaths.
Lower Body Joints
Begin these practices in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
We open and close our fingers as if we were trying to grab a hanky on the floor with our toes. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Lift your feet onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the floor, and then lower your heels back down. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Gently flex and point the foot. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Make ankle circles. Trace a full circle with your feet, clockwise first, then anti-clockwise. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Hug one knee to your chest and hold for a few seconds before repeating with the other leg. Hold for 5 to 9 breaths on each side.
In a standing quad stretch with your heels close to your hips, reverse the above movement by bending the knee. Hold for 5 to 9 breaths on each side.
Feel free to use a wall or chair for support if it is difficult to balance on one leg.
Yogi Squat (Malasana): Activate the Knees and Ankles
After activating each of these joints separately, perform yogic squats to mobilize the hip, knee, and ankle joints. Remember to keep your body's level of flexibility in mind here. If you find it difficult to squat all the way to the floor, squat halfway.
Alternatively, a rolled mat can be placed under your heels. You can improve your ability to sit in the traditional Indian squat by incorporating any of the modifications shown below.
Middle Body Joints
Cradling the Baby Pose (Shishupal Asana) relieves hip joint tension. Pick up your right leg and draw it toward your chest, shin horizontal, from a seated position. Insert your right knee into the crook of your right elbow and your left foot into the crook of your left elbow. Your knee should be rocked from side to side. Rep 5 to 10 times, then switch to the opposite leg.
Fingers and Wrists
Make a fist with your fingers, then let them go. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Make a fist with your thumb inside and rotate your wrists clockwise first, then anti-clockwise. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Perform elbow curls. Extend your arms parallel to the floor and bend your elbows to touch your fingers to your shoulder. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Rep with your arms outstretched in front of you.
Upper Body Joints
Rotate your shoulders with your elbows bent or straight. Repeat 5–10 times more.
Look from one side to the other, gently coordinating your breath with the movement. Repeat 5–10 times more.
While looking straight ahead, tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder. (Be aware that in the normal range of motion, your ear will not touch your shoulder, so don't try!) Rep on the opposite side. Hold for 5 to 9 breaths on each side.
Please use caution when performing these movements because the cervical spine is a very important and delicate area. Do them gently while keeping your eyes open and alert. We don't want to catch anything!
Moving mindfully and changing our posture on a regular basis is one of the best ways to protect our joints. These joint movements are a simple and gentle way to incorporate therapeutic movements into your daily routine.
They improve circulation, relieve stiffness and tension, and relax the nervous system, and they are available to everyone. These movements are also useful for warming up before yoga practice. Maintain a healthy and positive attitude.