I have the blessings of meeting many people while teaching yoga at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas. After most of my classes, at least one and often more of the attendees will come up to ask questions about soreness in their muscles that is causing them pain and inability to move with ease.
Besides some guidance on their movements in the yoga postures, I often recommend Mahanarayan Oil (my preferred brand is Banyan Botanicals). It is a highly effective oil, especially used at night, for relieving muscle and joint pain. I have used it quite a bit and found it to really work. A word of caution - this oil can stain if not rubbed in well.
The questions about muscles have had me thinking quite a bit about the Yin Yoga training I did last summer with Swara Yoga teachers, Sofia and Emily. Emily enthusiastically shared her vast knowledge of anatomy and provided us with much information to help us better understand what was going on when we have tightened and sore muscles. Two quotes that I found particularly interesting follow:
“A tight muscle will resist the circulation of these vital fluids - picture a fist gripping a hose and how that would effect the flow of water running through that hose. Put another way, tight muscles work against the flow of your cardiovascular system (blood) and your immune system (which your lymphatic system supports). The result is increased blood pressure, decreased metabolism, waste accumulation in your tissues, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If optimal health in our body is important to us, bringing suppleness and circulation back to our tight muscles must be a priority . Had you ever thought about your muscles from this bigger picture, whole body health perspective?”
“Muscles don’t lengthen beyond the stabilizers ability to support them, or the strength and flexibility of the antagonists involved (antagonist muscles are those that oppose the action of another - biceps and triceps are antagonists). If they are forced to stretch, they are damaged at a microscopic level and weakened, and always feel tight and sore.”
Ahimsa is major principle of yoga. It means ‘do no harm’ or non violence. This includes doing no harm to ourselves too. Taking care to rest and relax muscles when they are sore, rather than further stressing them with too much activity, is important for us all to remember. Be kind to yourself.
Loving Life and Living Love,
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