Taking on a more rigorous power yoga practice can be both exciting and scary. One will begin to challenge both the mind and body in new ways. It is likely that one will feel this in their body mentally, emotionally and physically.
There are many different ways to support a more rigorous yoga practice including things like proper nutrition, rest, and recovery. It’s important to take a holistic approach to health.
It’s no surprise to feel a little soreness after a power yoga practice, especially if some time has passed since the last practice. The reason a good yoga practice can feel so wonderful, after all, is because it can deeply stretch certain muscles that most are not accessing in their everyday life. Though yoga is typically a low-impact exercise, it can still put a big strain on your muscles.
Yoga is filled with eccentric contractions that cause microscopic injuries to the muscle and fascial tissues. This triggers an inflammatory response in the body and causes muscle soreness. This isn’t a bad thing though. Once the muscles recover, they’ll experience muscle growth and improved performance, ultimately developing strength. Of course, if the soreness after yoga is very painful, see a doctor.
Other than the physical soreness after a power yoga practice that needs attending to, one must take into consideration the mental and emotional support needed as well. Anything new requires more attention, patience and devotion. It is not something that the body is used to yet, so there will always be a learning curve. Fortunately, yoga helps us draw on patience and devotion in times of need.
Here are our top ways to support a more rigorous yoga practice:
Power Mindset + Perspective
Anything challenging requires a calm and focused mental state. Thankfully, the practice of yoga helps build both mental and physical strength. There will always come a time when the student doesn’t want to take on the difficult practice or wants to give up. Right there, at that tipping point, is where most of the magic lies. The decision to keep going, even though it is hard, the decision to do it anyway, despite the “in the moment” feelings of doubt or anger, the decision to commit to a bigger and better future, and endure the momentary discomfort that comes with it all ends up strengthening the system.
It is through these more difficult practices that strength is built. In these moments, people are able to connect with their own strength and resilience. So often they don’t give themselves enough credit. The reality is, they are stronger and more capable than they could ever imagine. They have made it through every battle that they have come up against thus far, with a success rate of one hundred percent.
It’s also important to know that the moments of wavering commitment are inevitable and human. So when they do arrive, there is no need to panic. Reconnect with the larger picture at hand. Reconnect with the breath. Allow the feeling of resistance and discomfort to come up. Just as it comes, it will also go.
Make sure to check out our article on How to Make Practicing Yoga at Home a Habit for more tips on accomplishing your yoga goals.
Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to support a more rigorous power yoga practice. When it comes down to post exercise nutrition, we want something that replenishes what the body has lost through energy exertion and sweat, and helps the body build lean muscle.
When exercising, the body uses fuel stored in the muscles known as glycogen for energy. Most people say that the sooner you start refueling your body exercise, the better – definitely within two hours. Eating something that combines protein and carbohydrates thirty minutes to an hour after the workout helps to refill these energy stores, as well as build and repair the muscles that were broken down. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a small amount of carbohydrates is the go-to combination for post-exercise nutrition.
There likely is not a need for caffeine or energy supplements. With a rigorous power yoga practice, it is unlikely to be depleting the body to the point of warranting caffeine, energy drinks, or supplements. This only adds unnecessary calories and other substances to a body that simply needs gentle movement, hydration, and rest. These supplements may be more necessary for ultra-endurance athletes.
Recovery is just as important as activity. It’s essential to support the body’s own recovery process after a rigorous yoga practice that may have induced both muscle and mental fatigue.
Hydration is key to recovery, especially after a sweaty yoga practice. Water will help increase the 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. No need for sports drinks. Purified water if the way to go. For extra electrolytes, try adding a pinch of Himilayan Sea Salt and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon to the water.
Foam rolling for 20 minutes immediately after working out can help reduce tenderness. It may cause some discomfort at first, so take it slow and be gentle. There will likely be some heightened sensitivity and feeling, but it should not be too painful, or else it could be doing more harm than good.
Check out this foam rolling sequence for the lower body on YogaToday. Your first two weeks are always free!
Hot baths help initiate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce tension and allow the body to be in a state of healing. They also feel amazing and give people dedicated time to practice self-care, which can help both mentally and physically.
Light stretching can assist in recovery as well. It will increase circulation and range of motion while also preventing chronic tension and pain. Breathe into the discomfort and find your edge.
One of the best ways to cope with soreness after power yoga is to do more yoga. Concentrate on the areas that hurt and try to gradually relieve tension and tightness. Keep it slow and steady, with an emphasis on the mind-body connection. Although one may want to decrease activity due to muscle soreness, it’s important to keep some movement going to decrease the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. No need to push it, but light movement can be helpful.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” – Anne LamottTweet
Sleep is the ultimate form of medicine. When we sleep, the fluid present in the brain and spinal chord — called the cerebrospinal fluid — washes in and out, like waves, helping the brain get rid of accumulated metabolic “trash.” The muscles are allowed to relax and repair. The digestive system takes a break. During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in the brain that help people remember new information they’ve learned. The list goes on and on. Without sleep and rest, your body can’t “gear down” to allow for the parasympathetic nervous system to take the lead to allow for healing. Without enough sleep, the neuroendocrine system will not prime the body and tissues for repair and relief, so getting enough sleep is essential for recovery.
Aim for 7-9 hours per night of sleep. Try getting off of screens two hours before bedtime and having a balanced dinner for a more restful sleep.
We hope these tips help you power up your practice! Let us know how it goes in the comments section.