Yoga is an extremely beneficial form of exercise. It can work your body's core, strengthen your muscles and improve your overall mental health.
However, yoga involves the stretching of your muscles and as a result, you may put further strain on muscles that are already sore.
Having said that though, many experts believe that yoga can help you out with sore muscles, but it depends on the type of yoga you are doing, the intensity and the positions you are using – along with of course, the muscles that are sore.
This guide will examine what yoga is best for sore muscles and how best to utilize it.
What Is Yoga?
Before we get into the specifics, it's probably beneficial that we explore what yoga is and how it works first.
Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. It was originally developed in India by ancient yogis who believed that through meditation they could attain enlightenment.
The word 'yoga' means union or joining together. This is because the goal of yoga is to unite our mind, body and spirit.
It is also known as Hatha Yoga which is a physical discipline that focuses on postures (or poses) and breathing techniques.
These poses are used to stretch and tone the muscles while at the same time improving flexibility.
There are several types of yoga including Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Bikram, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Yin Yoga and more.
You perform yoga by focusing on the breath, movement and relaxation. You start off with some basic poses and then move onto more advanced ones.
There are numerous benefits to practicing yoga such as:
- Improving posture
- Strengthening muscles
But do these benefits translate to sore muscles?
Can Yoga Help With Sore Muscles?
Yes! In fact, there are many studies that have proven that yoga can be very effective when treating muscle pain.
In one study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that yoga helped reduce lower back pain.
In another study from the University of California San Diego, researchers discovered that yoga improved knee function after total knee replacement surgery.
And finally, in a study published in the Journal Clinical Rehabilitation, researchers found that yoga reduced pain and increased mobility in people with osteoarthritis.
So yes, yoga can definitely help sore muscles. However, it depends on the type you're doing and the position you're in.
Yoga For Sore Muscles
If you're looking to treat sore muscles, here are 3 types of yoga that you should try:
Restorative yoga is designed to relax the body and restore energy.
It is often practiced lying down and focuses on holding certain poses for long periods of time.
For example, if you were doing restorative yoga, you would hold a pose like Child's Pose for 10 minutes.
During this time, you would focus on relaxing your muscles and letting go of any stress.
Gentle yoga is similar to restorative yoga except it is done standing up.
It is easy to do and requires little effort.
For example, you might start with Standing Forward Bend followed by Seated Forward Bend.
Hot yoga is a high-intensity workout where you will sweat buckets.
This type of yoga is great for athletes and those who want to burn calories.
However, it isn't recommended for beginners since you need to be physically fit before trying hot yoga.
How To Do Yoga For Sore Muscles
Here are some tips to follow if you decide to try yoga for sore muscles:
Do Not Overdo It
Start slow and work your way up. Don't jump right into an advanced class. Instead, start out with gentle yoga and build up slowly.
It will never be good for sore muscles if you do something that overexerts you right off the bat.
Give yourself enough time to recover between classes and do not practice yoga during times of extreme fatigue or illness.
Practice At A Place That Is Warm
When you practice yoga, make sure that you are working out in a warm environment.
Working out in cold weather can actually cause your muscles to seize up, and you can feel more rigid and possibly experience more muscle pain.
Make Sure You Have Proper Shoes
You don't want to injure yourself further while practicing yoga so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. If you find that your feet hurt, then consider wearing socks that are supportive.
Practice Proper Form
Make sure that you use proper form and always consult with a personal trainer before starting a new exercise routine.
If you are incorrectly performing yoga, you may find your sore muscles get worse over time.
Be Consistent With Your Practice
The best way to get results from yoga is to practice regularly. As soon as you finish, ensure you note down any muscle pains or strains. This can help you plan for recovery and your next exercises.
Take Care Of Your Body
Be careful when doing yoga too often. Make sure that you give your body adequate rest after each session.
Try to avoid lifting weights or other strenuous activities immediately following a yoga session. Instead, wait until you have recovered fully before engaging in such activities.
Best Yoga Positions For Sore Muscles
There are many types of yoga positions. Here are some of the best when you have sore muscles.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
In child’s pose, you lie flat on your back with your arms bent behind your head.
Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
In side angle pose, you bend your left knee and place your foot on top of your thigh. Then, bring your right leg forward and cross it over your left leg.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
In seated forward bend, you sit upright with your legs crossed.
Crescent Moon Pose (Anjaneyasana)
In crescent moon pose, raise your arms up and over your head with palms pressed together, then shift your hips to left while arching your torso and arms to the right. Your body should make crescent shape from hands to feet.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
In standing forward bend, you fold forward with your knees slightly bent.
Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
In Warrior I pose, you stand tall with your arms extended overhead.
Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
In Warrior II pose, you take one step backward with your right foot and extend your left arm toward the sky.
Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
In half spinal twist, you lean forward with your torso and rotate your hips to the left. Then, you turn around and repeat this movement to the right.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
In plow pose, you kneel down with your thighs parallel to the floor.
Cat/Cow Pose (Marjariasana)
In cat cow pose, you squat down with your heels touching the ground.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should You Perform Yoga?
It depends on how much time you have available to dedicate to your yoga practice. It's recommended that you perform at least 30 minutes of yoga every day.
However, if you're looking to lose weight, you should do about 20-30 minutes a day and incorporate other exercise.
This is not always easy if you have sore muscles though, so speak with a personal trainer or your doctor before you change your routine.
Can Yoga Make Muscle Pain Worse?
It is possible to make muscle pain worse by practicing yoga incorrectly. However, it is important to note that yoga does not cause injury.
If you feel like you need more information, then consider speaking with a professional who has experience working with people who suffer from chronic pain.
What Is A Good Time To Start Doing Yoga?
If you want to start doing yoga, try starting off slowly. Begin with just 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the amount of time you spend practicing.
There's no minimum or maximum age limit for yoga as it can help everybody.
Many gyms will offer a yoga class, and sometimes this is included as part of your membership. Check with your gym (if you have one) to see if they offer yoga classes.
Should I Do Yoga Before Or After A Workout?
You can do yoga either before or after a workout. The benefits of doing yoga before a workout are:
- Improving flexibility
- Reducing stress levels
- Increasing blood flow
- Improving balance
The benefits of doing yoga after a workout are:
- Strengthening the core
- Stabilizing the spine
- Relaxing the body
Are There Any Benefits Of Doing Yoga At Night?
Yes! Studies show that yoga helps relieve insomnia. This is because it improves sleep quality and reduces anxiety.
Some people find that sleeping in a certain position makes them fall asleep easier. If you struggle to get to sleep, then you may benefit from trying out some different positions.
This is particularly poignant when it comes to sore muscles because it can help relieve pain and assist with giving you a good night's sleep – which alone has huge health benefits.
Yoga can be very helpful for sore muscles, but you have to be aware of the best positions, form and other factors involved.
Always speak with your doctor and an instructor before doing any new form of physical exercise, especially if you have sore muscles.