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Yoga for Tight Muscles

Yoga for Tight Muscles

Tight muscles are often the result of incorrect or poor posture, sitting at a desk for hours together, excess physical activity, among others. Even athletes and runners often feel the brunt of tight muscles due to movement in the same direction for prolonged periods of time. Yoga for muscle knots is an effective way to loosen tight areas and strengthen the weak ones. Yoga for muscle soreness also helps in recovery. The areas that suffer from tense muscles are the neck, upper and lower back, hips and groin. 

Why is yoga useful for tight muscles 

Improves flexibility

Yoga works on stretching and strengthening the muscles, which improves flexibility. Over time, the muscles will be strong and resilient to tightness. Yoga for morning stiffness is also very useful when you wake up as it eases tightness due to sleeping postures. 

Relieves soreness

Yoga postures will relieve soreness and tightness from specific regions. For those working 9-5, lower back stiffness and tight hips is common, for runners, back stiffness is common. Similarly, for many people struggling with sore muscles, yoga releases and restores. 

Improved range of motion

Like flexibility, regular yoga practice improves range of motion. So stiffness in areas like the knees and shoulders will reduce. There is better mobility and the muscles in the supporting areas will get stronger. 

Better awareness

Yoga improves mindfulness and awareness. This heightens awareness of sensations in the body, tightness or unpleasant feelings. Improved awareness will encourage you to adopt better posture, get in varied movement and appropriate amounts of physical activity. 

Recovery and rejuvenation

Yoga works immensely as a recovery and rejuvenation tool. It helps hardworking muscles relax and restore after a vigorous workout, release tension from areas like the back, shoulders and hips, and induces a sense of peace and calm, on and off the mat. This is also why it is important to spend a little while practicing cool-down exercises. Such exercises will release the strain from muscles, help the muscles relax and restore. 

Eight yoga poses for tight muscles  

Cat-cow pose

A wonderful posture to relieve muscle tension from the back, this posture massages and stretches the spine. It improves spinal flexibility, relieves lower back tension, calms the nervous system, and improves circulation. 

How to do cat-cow pose: 

  • Come onto your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under the hips.
  • Maintain a neutral spine position with your neck long, gazing down and out. Curl your toes with your heels pointing upward.
  • Inhale and initiate the movement by tilting your pelvis, bringing your tailbone up.
  • Continue the movement up your spine with your neck moving last, looking toward the ceiling without straining your neck.
  • Exhale and place the tops of your feet on the floor. Roll your pelvis to tuck your tailbone under, continuing this movement along your entire spine.
  • Draw your belly button up toward your spine, then gently tilt your neck down to drop your head.
  • Repeat this for a few breaths, moving the entire spine.
Cat-cow pose

Low lunge pose

This posture stretches the hip flexors, strengthens the hamstrings and quadriceps. It releases tightness from the hips, thighs and groin region. It’s an effective preparatory pose for many challenging hip-openers. 

How to do low lunge pose: 

  • To practice low lunge, take your right foot between your hands. Make sure your right knee is directly above your right ankle. 
  • Now gently drop your left knee to the floor. You can also keep a blanket or a small cushion below your knee for comfort. 
  • Bring both hands to your waist and gently push your hips forward till you begin to feel a nice stretch.  
  • Keep facing your right leg. Don’t let your shoulders round. They should remain open. 
  • Stay here for a few deep breaths or as long as you are comfortable. 
Low lunge pose

Pigeon pose

The Pigeon pose eases tension from the hips and also effectively opens the hip region. Bending forward in the pigeon pose is very relaxing for the back and adds a bit of a challenge to the pose too.  

How to do pigeon pose: 

  • Lie down on your back with your legs straight and arms beside the body. 
  • Now place the right foot on the opposite thigh. It will look like the figure four. 
  • Flex your toes and lift the left foot off the ground. Now take the right arm through the opening between the legs and bring the left arm to the outside of the left leg. Grab either the left shin or the hamstrings with both hands. 
  • Keep the back and head firmly on the mat. Keep pulling the left shin towards your body as you press the right knee slightly away from you. 
Pigeon pose

Reclined spinal twist pose

Also a very relaxing posture that stretches the glutes and relaxes the spine. This pose eases tension from the lower back and gives the shoulders a stretch too. 

How to do reclined spinal twist: 

  • Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees pointing up toward the ceiling.
  • Press into your feet to lift your hips slightly off the floor and shift them about an inch to your right. Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg flat on the floor.
  • Exhale and cross your right knee over your midline to the floor on the left side of your body. Your right hip is now stacked on top of your left hip. You can hook your right foot behind your left knee if you like.
  • Open your right arm to the right, keeping it in line with your shoulders. Rest your left hand on your right knee or extend it to make a T shape with the arms. Turn your palms toward the ceiling.
  • Turn your head to the right, bringing your gaze over your shoulder to your right fingertips. As you exhale, release your left knee and your right shoulder toward the floor. After staying here for a few breaths, release the posture and repeat on the other side. 
Reclined spinal twist pose

Legs up on the wall pose

A restorative posture, this pose relieves tension in the legs, feet, and back. It stretches the hamstrings and glutes. Doing this pose for a few minutes after a long at work is very relaxing and helps melt away stress from the day. 

How to do legs up on the wall pose: 

  • Lie down with your buttocks close to a wall and legs falling to one side. Now slowly lift the legs up along the wall. Adjust your position to make sure you are as close to the wall as possible. Make sure you are comfortable.  
  • Now relax the throat and head. Keep the arms on the side of the body or above your head - whichever is comfortable for you. 
  • Stay here for a few minutes. Try to take slow, deep breaths. 
  • To come out of the posture, slowly drop the legs to one side and push yourself away from the wall.
Legs up on the wall pose

Downward facing dog pose

This posture stretches the hamstrings, strengthens the shoulders and improves blood circulation. It’s very effective in releasing tension from the back, hips, hands and shoulders. 

How to do downward facing dog pose: 

  • First come into the starting position of cat-cow pose (on your palms and knees). From here, push back through your hands and lift your hips. Straighten your legs. 
  • Keep the palms firmly on the mat with the fingers spread. The feet will be on the mat. If you find this difficult, you can also only place your toes on the mat. 
  • Keep the shoulders away from the ears. Look towards your abdomen. 
  • Engage your thighs and core to hold the posture. Keep taking slow deep breaths. 
  • To release the posture, exhale and bend your knees. Come down to the child's pose.
Downward facing dog pose

Child’s pose

A very calming posture that gives a gentle stretch to the back, hips, thighs, ankles, and feet. This pose eases tension from the entire body, relaxes the mind and induces a sense of peace and calm. 

How to do child’s pose: 

  • Kneel down on your mat with your knees about hip width apart. 
  • Now slowly bend forward bringing your forehead on the mat. Your arms should be stretched out in front of the body. 
  • You can also place a cushion below your forehead. 
  • Stay here for a few slow deep breaths and then gently come back up. 
Child’s pose

Standing forward fold pose

Doing this posture by allowing your arms, shoulders and head to comfortably drop, and adding a gentle sway will help stretch the back, ease lower back tension and loosen the hamstrings. Allowing the head to hang and relax will give a nice release in the neck and shoulders too. 

How to do standing forward fold: 

  • As you inhale, lift the arms upwards towards the sky/ceiling. As the biceps touch the ear, start bending back and keep the position of the head and arms intact. Stretch from the sides and the abdomen. 
  • Now, exhale and pull the stomach in. Start bending forward from the hip and try to bring the chest closer to the thighs. 
  • Place the hands next to your feet, or on the ground in front of you, keeping the elbows slightly bent. Inhale and look ahead. 
  • Exhale and bring the face closer to the knees. Relax the head and neck, and hold the posture for a few breaths. 
Standing forward fold pose

Apart from these poses, practicing a few rounds of Surya Namaskar is also effective in stretching the muscles and releasing tightness. Dynamic movements activate and improve the range of motion, blood circulation, oxygen supply and nourish the connective tissue.

Even deep breathing, and practicing conscious breathing during and between postures helps reduce stress, tension and inflammation from the body. All the stress and tension your body endures due to daily pressure will get released and your body will become stronger. Yoga will also activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing down your heart rate, conserving energy, and helping you relax and digest.

Yoga for Tight Muscles
Shvasa Editorial Team

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