So…this post is coming to you a little late…
I’ve been pretty sick the last few days; caught some kind of chest cold and was coughing and sore all Thursday and Friday. BUT that’s why I decided that this needed to be the post for Fitness Friday…ok, SATURDAY…sorry.
Over the last week, I have been doing a lot of exercises AND I’ve gotten sick. In other words, I’ve been sore AF. And what do I like to do when I’m sore?
I’ve probably said it before, but yoga has saved my life in more ways than one. It started out as the ideal workout program, then grew into something that benefitted my mind as well as my body.
And sometimes, in order to heal thyself, you have to engage both of these things with intention.
With that being the case, I have a few poses that feel REALLY good when I’m feeling this awful. They’re calming, soothing, and easy on sore muscles and tired bodies.
15 Yoga Poses You Can Do For Sore Muscles (Post-Workout, PMS, Injuries, or Sickness)
Mountain Pose w/ Shoulder & Neck Rolls
Ok…let’s begin :).
When you’re starting a yoga flow sequence you can pretty much start in any easy pose. But mountain pose is standard. Stand up straight and begin to engage your mind, body, and intention for practice.
Although there is stillness, there is nothing static about this pose. You’re upright, but you’re not just standing there. As you’re standing, you’re touching the floor with all 4 corners of your feet. From there, engage the muscles in your legs all the way around, concentrating on lifting your knees- engaging your quad muscles.
Now, remember not to hyperextend your knees. It’s about engagement, not tension. Keep working your way up, tucking your tailbone under (not clenching your butt, just tilting your hips forward), which will, in turn, engage your lower abs. Now imagine your sternum being lifted by a string as you lead with your chest and roll your shoulders back. Lift through your spine to keep it straight; don’t forget to breathe.
Since we’re all about engaging, this is a great time to do a little body scan and see what areas need attention today. Where are you extra sore? What needs stretching?
Do this slowly from head to toe, noticing everything that’s sore as well as everything that’s not. Then you can start the shoulder rolls to gradually begin the practice.
Roll your shoulders backward and forwards to start releasing tension. Lead with the breath, inhaling and exhaling as you roll through the movements.
Like I said, you don’t have to start with this. You can start seated or in downward dog or on all fours. But this is what helps me get prepped for a good practice.
Once you’re satisfied with your mountain pose, go ahead and fold at the hips, flat back, into your forward fold. Relax into it. If you have to keep a micro-bend in your knees, do that. You don’t wanna lock them.
Allow your upper body to hang here, letting the tension fall from you.
Downward & 3-Legged Dog
It might look like this pose is just you standing on your hands and feet with your butt in the air…but there’s so much more to it than that.
Like your feet in the mountain pose, you want to make sure that your hands are fully spread and engaged so that your entire hand is touching the floor. You don’t want to put all the weight on the heels of your hands…that’s how you get wrist injuries.
So make sure those hands are fully engaged and that you’re lifting up through your arms to keep your weight from being entirely in your hands. Keep that back straight, and lift your tailbone towards the ceiling.
Your legs can be straight OR you can have a micro-bend in your knees. DO NOT try to make your heels touch the ground if it hurts. You just want to feel a nice stretch in the back of your legs, not pain.
Here’s an awesome break-down of this pose from Ali Kamenova. Honestly, after watching this video, my downward dogs got so much better. Take a look:
Once you get the hang of the basic pose, you can try moving into a 3-legged dog. It’s a great stretch on its own, and it’ll also help you transition into the next pose on the list.
I love this pose. So much. Lunges are, like, the meat and potatoes of yoga movements. At least for me. (Or should I say ‘tofu’ and potatoes? I haven’t figured out if being vegan makes that phrase inappropriate to use or not…).
A crescent lunge is a pretty simple movement. The main thing is to make sure that your front knee stays over your ankle and your tailbone stays tucked under. Don’t let your lower back curve out just because your leg is behind you.
This pose is all about alignment and expansion. Keep your front heel and your back heel on the same line and keep that spine straight, lengthening upwards with your upper body but keeping your legs and feet grounded.
Gentle, Warming Sun Salutations
The morning after an intense workout is…rough. You lay in all kinds of positions while you sleep, leaving you with cramps and aches. This can also be true if you’re PMSing, injured, or just fighting something off (like me right now…*sniffle*).
So I like to do something that’s gonna really bring some nice heat to my muscles that’ll warm them up and stretch out those kinks. Nothing too active, mind you; we are in recovery mode, here. We’re just trying to help ourselves recover a little faster. Work out some of the kinks of the day (and night) before and prep ourselves for the activities of the day.
When I do sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar, I’ll normally do a combination of the poses above to help get some blood flowing to the sore muscles. I like to think it keeps them from tightening in one of those achy, cramped positions.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m all about Ali Kamenova’s interval yoga sequences (she has some great Yin yoga sequences, too). But I also like a girl named Tara Stiles, who does a lot of small 10-15 minute videos that are easily digestible for beginners.
Here’s a morning yoga routine that I LOVE:
Slow, Mindful Moon Salutations
Moon salutations are fabulous…FABULOUS. I friggin love them. They are so soothing after a hard day’s work…and when you’re sore after a workout.
Again, it’s a combination of the poses mentioned above. You move through them similarly, but much slower, calmer, and meditative.
This right here, my friends, is the pièce de ré·sis·tance.
Check out another Tara video for a good moon flow sequence:
Cobra Pose & Upward Dog
Since I’m a KaribFit Instructor, I do a lot of core work. Which means I experience some serious soreness in my lower back and abdomen. Ouch.
Cobra pose is amazing for stretching out the front of my body. And God, it’s wonderful. You start laying on your front, put your hands under your shoulders, and straighten your arms. As you lift your chest off the floor, inhale deeply through your nose and relax into the stretch.
Enjoy that. It’s more delicious than the smoothies I wrote about on Wednesday.
There are 2 variations of this pose that I love: one with the arms stretched over the head and the other with arms relaxed by your sides.
In either variation, you sit your butt on your heels and lean forward to let your forehead rest on the floor.
When your arms are stretched over the head, it’s a nice relaxing stretch for your sides and lower back. If you rest your arms at your sides (hands by heels), you’re allowing the tension to drop from your upper back and neck.
The first one is great for waking up, I think, while the second is better for prepping for sleep. Both of them are awesome for soothing sore muscles.
Damn, this is a nice one for a tired spine. It’s particularly nice if you’re feeling tired and you need a gentle rejuvenation.
It’s so gentle, you can start your practice with it. Just get on all fours; keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Curve your back for cow pose and arch it for cat. Gently flow thru these poses, inhaling in cow and exhaling in cat.
As you move, try to make your movements correspond with the breath rather than the other way around.
Your back may crack a few times, but as long as it doesn’t hurt, it’s all good. It just means your vertebrae are realigning.
One of my favorites on this list. Mostly because I LOVE spinal twists. They feel so good in my obliques and my mid-back.
Seriously, I could drool, it feels so good.
You want to start on all fours again. Lift one arm and, palm up, thread it under the opposite arm.
Make sure you don’t over rotate. None of this stuff should hurt. Feel the stretch, but don’t cause yourself pain. You can rest your shoulder on the ground, look up towards the ceiling…go as far as is comfortable to you. But keep those hips level.
When you feel like you’ve got a sufficient stretch, do the same thing on the other side.
Seated Side Stretch
Great for sore obliques, shoulders, and triceps. That’s mainly where I feel it.
You just get comfy in a cross-legged seated position, then place one hand on the ground while stretching the other up and over your head. As you bring it towards the opposite side, make sure you rotate your pinky down toward the floor. That’s how you keep your shoulders from bunching up, which would jeopardize the stretch.
Same thing on the other side.
Seated Forward Fold
For that lower back and those hamstrings. Oh yeah, did I mention how sore my legs get after KaribFIT squats? Yikes.
This stretch helps with that. Stretch your legs out in front of you, feet flexed and parallel to each other. Keep a micro-bend in your knees so you don’t hyperextend. Then fold yourself in half right at the hinges of your hips.
Make sure your back is straight, not hunched. You can rest your hands anywhere on your legs, or even your feet if you can reach them.
Don’t forget to breathe through and into the stretch. It helps you relax into the pose, making it more effective.
A good stretch for the groin area. I’ve noticed that I get a decent stretch on my outer hips, too.
Sit with the soles of your feet together. Now, here’s where you can vary it a little. You can either bring your feet as close to your body as you can (comfortably) or you can keep your legs in a larger diamond shape.
That last one will feel great on your glutes. All you need to do is fold forward (again, right at your hips) and relax over.
Sometimes I’ll put a folded blanket or a pillow over my legs so I can rest my head while I stretch. It’s especially nice if you have a sinus headache.
Another really nice twisty-stretch for your back. Great for spinal alignment (again, your back might crack…don’t be alarmed…unless it hurts. Then be very alarmed and maybe call a doctor).
You lay down flat on your back and bring one of your knees to your chest. Bring that knee across your body and let gravity do the rest. Don’t force your leg to go further than what feels natural. Your leg may or may not touch the floor; either way, you’re getting a good stretch.
Last but certainly not least, your final resting pose, a.k.a. Shavasana, a.k.a. corpse pose.
Why do I love this one? Because I’m lazy and I love laying down. Duh.
But nah, really. This pose is amazing because it gives your muscles a chance to relax completely. Fantastic if you carry hypertension anywhere in your body; for me, it’s my shoulders and upper back.
And take it from me: this pose is AMAZING for meditation. The best, in my opinion. One of my problems is that I think too hard about everything. So when I’m doing seated meditation, I’m thinking so hard about keeping my back straight that I might just cause more tension. So I lay down and let myself relax everything.
You can probably see why this is so awesome for sore muscles.
Try it for yourself…
After your next workout, try a little yoga. Try some of these poses, or maybe find a sequence on YouTube that works better for you and try that. Just make sure that it’s calming and cooling for those tired muscles.
And the next time you get sick and achy all over- like I am right now- try some of these movements and see how they make you feel. Hopefully, it’ll give you some relief and a quicker recovery time.
Yoga is extremely healing for your mind, body, and soul. How do you feel about the healing effects of yoga?
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