Ankle sprains, twists and even breaks are common injuries. Running around on wet, slick winter streets calls for balance and poise and when we slip weak, tight or imbalanced ankles can easily give way.
Yoga is a great way to strengthen ankles, build flexibility and improve balance to avoid mishaps. Bikram yoga teaches us to be aware of the position of our joints and cultivate balanced muscles.
A common ankle problem is that they tend to be tight in the front. Cyclists, runners, and basketball players, for example, overwork their shins causing the muscles in the front of the ankle and the top of the foot to tighten.
Balancing poses like Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow Pulling Pose teach you to spread the weight throughout the foot so you stand evenly, not throwing your weight too far forward or back or right or left. This helps build muscle and joint strength and train your body to move in correct alignment.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana) is another excellent pose for strong ankles because the ankles work differently. Your standing leg learns to be strong and fluid, while the top leg gets a stretch along the inside of the ankle.
If you have any ankle weakness or injuries, be sure to move carefully in the postures, pay close attention to alignment, and let the teacher know!