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11 Dos And Don'ts of Coping with Soreness After Yoga

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How to deal with your discomfort and still stay Zen.

Here’s what to do to get over soreness after yoga, and what not to do according to experts.

It’s no surprise if you feel a little ache-y after yoga—especially if you’re just getting back into it after some time away or practiced postures you don’t normally do. The reason a good yoga practice can feel so wonderful, after all, is because it can deeply stretch certain muscles that you’re not accessing in your everyday life.

“You may think your muscles are active, but some yoga poses will still stretch them in unfamiliar ways,” says yoga teacher Loren Fishman, MD, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine, author of Healing Yoga, and the creator of the Yoga Injury Prevention program. “Muscles can also become sore because they’ve been overused.”

The soreness after yoga you may be experiencing is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which usually occurs 12-48 hours after exercising. The level of soreness you might feel depends what style you’re practicing, how intensely, and how frequently—as well as your individual body type, says Fishman. And even if you’re experienced in your practice, there’s a good chance you might feel sore from time to time. Though yoga is typically a low-impact exercise, it can still put a big strain on your muscles.

See also 16 Poses to Ease Back Pain

“Yoga is filled with eccentric contractions that cause microscopic injuries to the muscle and fascial tissues,” says Erica Yeary, MPH, RYT, an exercise physiologist and a Yoga Medicine registered therapeutic specialist based in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Our bodies produce an inflammatory response to these micro-tears and this causes muscle soreness.”

But, it turns out this muscle soreness is actually a good thing. “Once your muscles recover, you’ll experience muscle growth and improved performance,” says Yeary, ultimately making you stronger.

Of course, if your soreness after yoga is very painful, see a doctor. However, for run-of-the-mill soreness—which means pain is minimal—there are plenty of smart tricks you can try to ease your discomfort.

Here’s what to do—and what to avoid—to cope with muscle pain and soreness after yoga, according to medical and yoga experts.

See also Anatomy 101: Target the Right Muscles to Protect Knees

Drinking water will help the muscles heal after yoga practice.

DO hydrate, then hydrate some more.

Drink water, not sports drinks, says Amy C. Sedgwick, an emergency medicine doctor and Yoga Medicine certified yoga instructor in Portland, Maine. “We want to help increase our blood volume so this fluid can be distributed more easily to the tissues to allow transfer of nutrition, healing cells and flushing out metabolic waste. Hydration is the way that happens.”

DO get plenty of sleep.

Without sleep and rest, your body can’t “gear down” to allow for the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest mode) to be in charge, says Sedgwick. “Without enough sleep, the neuroendocrine system will not prime the body and tissues for repair and relief.”

DON’T down caffeine and energy supplements.

Unless you’re an ultra-endurance athlete, you are not likely depleting your system so much that you need caffeine, energy drinks, or supplements, says Sedgwick. “This only adds unnecessary calories and other substances to a body that simply needs gentle movement, hydration, and rest,” she says.

DO exercise—gently.

Exercise is the best way to relieve soreness after yoga, says Sedgwick. In fact, research shows doing the same muscle movements and sequences you did prior to feeling sore—but in a less intense way—can help relax muscle spasms and allow muscles, connective tissue, and joints to find greater range of motion, she adds.

See also Are Muscular Engagement Cues Doing More Harm Than Good?

Foam rolling is a great way to reduce muscle tightness after yoga.

DO use a foam roller.

Foam rolling for 20 minutes immediately after working out can reduce tenderness— even if it causes some discomfort, says Yeary. Take it slow and be gentle; you don’t want foam rolling to cause so much pain that it actually makes your soreness worse.

DO eat a balanced meal.

Make sure your post-workout snack or meal includes protein, which repairs and builds muscle, and carbohydrates, which will also speed recovery, says Yeary.

See also What to Eat Before and After Yoga, According to Top Nutrition Experts

DON’T take anti-inflammatory drugs.

It may seem like a smart idea to pop an aspirin to take the edge off your soreness after yoga, but it’s not the best way to help speed your recovery, says Yeary. “Inflammation is how the body responds to any type of injury,” she says. “In order to properly repair any damaged tissue, you must have inflammation. If you take away that inflammation with a drug you are hindering your body’s natural healing mechanisms.”

DO take a hot bath.

Not only does this feel great, but it actualy helps to initiate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce tension and allow the body to be in a state of healing, says Yeary.

Increase circulation in the body through stretching.

DO stretch.

And when you do, be sure to stretch through all planes of motion. This will increase circulation and range of motion while also preventing chronic tension and pain, says Yeary.

DON’T do intense stretching.

Long, static stretches or over-stretching sore muscles can do more harm than good, says Yeary. “The tissues are already slightly damaged and working on healing.” If you over-stretch your muscles and “wring them out” of all their fluids, you reduce their ability to heal and may even damage them in the process, she adds.

See also 7 Restorative Poses to Stay Grounded During the Holidays

DO continue to practice yoga, gently.

One of the absolute best ways to cope with soreness after yoga is to do more yoga, says Fishman. “Concentrate on the areas that hurt and try to gradually relieve tension and tightness,” he says. “Becoming inactive because activity gives you some soreness is a very poor response to your soreness, and is likely to leave you in even more pain the next time you practice.”

About the Author
Gina Tomaine is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. She is currently Deputy Lifestyle Editor of Philadelphia magazine, and previously served as Associate Deputy Editor of Rodale’s Organic Life. Her work can be seen in Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Prevention and elsewhere. Learn more at ginatomaine.com. 



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8 Ways Yogis Can Support Their Foot Health

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Support the foundation of your yoga practice.

Vivobarefoot is offering Yoga Journal readers an exclusive 15% discount through June 30, 2019. Get the discount code here.

Vivobarefoot is on a mission to change the footwear industry based on one simple insight – shoes should let your feet do their natural thing. By wearing Vivobarefoot wide, thin and flexible shoes, you can continue to strengthen your feet off the mat and throughout your everyday life, as well as reconnecting your feet with your brain and, ultimately, with the world, allowing you to reach your full natural potential. Check out vivobarefoot.com to learn more.​



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6 Yogi Dads Inspiring Us This Fathers Day

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Here are six yogi dads who inspire us to continue to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships with the children in our lives through their sacred fatherhood. Thank you, dads!

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1. Jah Sun

“If you’re seeing this, it means you have a father. I had one too. He’s was a brilliant chemist of a top firm in NJ. Seen him twice my entire life. I’m thankful he made me. Truly! As much I longed to see him more as a kid, The Universe knew what I needed and having him more fully in my life could’ve been more damaging. Who knows? Doesn’t matter. What I do know it that’s it’s perfect – as is – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t be me otherwise. So, today, I’m not simply offering up some generic “Happy Father’s Day” to all fathers. Because being a “Father” takes very little skill, 3 minutes behind a school bleacher at age 15-16 (some start younger than that) – if we’re keeping it real like adults. I’m raising the bar. Elevating the standard. I’m unwilling to continue to celebrate the bare minimum. Honoring men with zero, or little connection to their children and send money like they’re paying a car note. In and out, when it suits them, like a revolving door at a hotel. Instead, I’m standing up to SALUTE ALL DADS! Men who are there, present and CONSISTENT for their children (and being with Mom is not a requirement to be available for your baby). MEN who have taken up the mantle to raise another man’s child (that they left behind), and became Dad for them. I stand up and SALUTE ALL MOMS doing double duty as BOTH parents. I was a single dad for 5 years, so I don’t empathize – I sympathize because I did it too. Real life experience. The pain of that hurts on levels many can’t comprehend. So, I see you, and I’m proud of you! For the True DADS of all genders, skin colors and geographical location – SALUTE! Keep up the amazing work. Our children deserve nothing less!”

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2. Aubert Bastiat

“3/8/2019. Today I’m celebrating Cairo’s 1 year on this earth. Today I’m celebrating beautiful @divinedavana who I love more everyday. Today I’m celebrating my mother, my sisters and the Sacred Feminine in all Her expressions. ⁣

I celebrate not by word alone but by holding the highest vision and I do so through love, intention and action. ⁣ Although it’s only been a year since Cairo was born truly this last year has been the most EPIC of my entire existence. It was after becoming a father to Cairo at 33 that my vision became grounded to this earth in such a way that the manifold expressions of my service to this world crystallized into a singular focus – anchoring the Sacred Masculine to this earth.⁣ Because there is no greater gift that I can give to my family, community and this world than embodying the Sacred and anchoring it to this earth through every aspect of my life.⁣”

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3. Alonzo Nelson Jr. M.Ed

After 9 months and 41 hours of labor, my princess has arrived. April 10th at 6:43pm, Harper Renee Nelson made her grand entrance into my life. Fatherhood is my new favorite job. Sorry math!”

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4. Brian Delmonico

I didn’t know what to expect when Mia Luna was born. Like any new parent to be I received a love blast like nothing else I’ve ever experienced before. Holding her, calming her, changing her, smelling her, and loving her is a feeling I don’t think I could ever put into words. [The first two weeks of her life] changed my world, and brought new meaning to every moment of my life.”

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5. Adam Jackson

“Listening to music with Noah makes me hear it differently. I can hear it for the first time through him. We’re doing a little dance here. I want to show him everything. I can’t wait for him to show me everything.”

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6. Peter Maldonado

My favorite girl. Being a dad to such a gentle delicate little kid like her comes with challenges. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m “supposed” to be doing with her. I just make sure she’s fed, clean, and genuinely happy. I feel like she teaches me way more about life than I teach her. Grateful that recovery has enabled me to be the best dad I can be to this kiddo. Because she’s pure love and deserves the best.”



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Ayurveda

YJ Tried It: I Followed an Ayurvedic, Dosha-Balancing Diet for a Week

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Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system and the sister science of yoga. Ayurveda is based on the elements in nature. According to Ayurveda, there are three mind-body types called the doshas. Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. Vatta is air, Pitta is fire and Kapha is the earth. Based on your mind-body type, Ayurveda offers various nutrition, self-care, and spiritual recommendations to bring the mind, body, and spirit back into balance and harmony.

In this video, Sky interviews Sahara Rose, an Ayurvedic expert and nutritionist. Sahara discusses Sky’s Pitta imbalance and advises her how to structure a meal plan to bring her body back to balance.

See also 7 Chakra-balancing Ayurvedic Soup Recipes



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