Muscle tightness is so common you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t complain about this annoying condition. When it’s coupled with injury you have a recipe for disaster. Read on to find out how yoga can help ease the discomfort of muscle injury.
By Maddie Jordan, Yoga Instructor and GPT Administrator
The way I would describe yoga would be Functional Movement. Moving the body slowly with purpose and intention. Being immersed in a supportive environment where you are encouraged to slow down and feel into your body, rather than pushing yourself. This creates a great space to check in with injuries and move as gently and slowly as you need to.
The sequence of a yoga class is structured to first give you the time to slow down the breath. Breathe work is introduced to help slow down and focus your mind. This allows you the time to check in energetically, mentally and physically to help set an intention for the class ahead. Your intention is designed around how you are feeling in the present moment, to help you consciously flow through the class with purpose and intention.
Stretching and gentle mobility exercises follow Pranayma. This helps to loosen your body and release any tightness or tension. Just like when you receive a remedial massage, the gentle movement gives you the chance to check in on a physical level. Each movement is directed with a breathe to connect the body with mind.
Depending on the style of yoga, The intensity may increase, including longer holds, a faster pace, or more challenging Asanas. Challenging asanas are designed to challenge the physical body, but also to challenge the mind, to break out of your comfort zone. By putting your body into challenging asanas your triggers and behavior patterns to arise. ‘This is too hard!, ‘this is stupid’, I want to run away’. This help you to become aware of, honor and diffuse your triggers. We are able to rewire our behaviours and move through life with more consciousness towards ourselves and others. In a massage setting, the therapist will apply pressure to areas of the body that may cause discomfort. We use the breath as a tool to help relax, ease tension and dissolve pain.
Iyengar Yoga is an alignment-based style. It shows you the correct ways to hold asanas which can help you to understand how you hold your body, and to further re-align your body. One injury can lead to another. With Iyengar’s great understanding of the physical body, we can correct the domino effect of injuries that may have occurred. Just like when a massage therapist may ask you to complete simple movements before they begin treatment. This helps the therapists understand how you move and hold your body. A massage therapist will then use sight and touch to feel out any imbalances within your body. Iyengar uses asanas as a tool to physically re-align. While a massage therapists uses technique with their hands and other limbs. Focusing on your muscles, fascia and lymphatic system to relieve pressure and pain.
Other styles such as Yin Yoga will stay at a slow pace, holding asanas for 3-5 minutes to help release the fascia (a connective webbing which can stiffen and decrease mobility). This style is the most stretch focused and is best complimented by myofascial release techniques, a manual way of releasing that connective tissue.
Due to the implementation of probs and a variety of variations, yoga is a great way to ease back into exercise. With the ability to cater your class for what your body needs. Each Asana has variations to help all levels complete the same flow in their own way. Yoga is designed to help you re-connect with and express your inner flow. This may be simply adding some gentle mobility back to an injury or roaring like a lion to shift and release emotional bodies.
The benefits of yoga are endless. The main benefits for both Yoga and massage would be flexibility, mobility, and relaxation. Yoga incorporates a range of static and dynamic stretching techniques, of both passive and active stretching. Yoga is a big reality check! especially if you have been lifting weights at the gym. Tight muscles can be dangerous and lead to injury. Weights are a great way to build muscles and bone density, but should be combined with stretching. Tight muscles can tare, cause pain and also shift the bodies natural structure. On the other hand muscle atrophy (a wasting away of the muscle due to lack of use) can lead to overcompensation in other muscles, generally the more dominant muscles.
This can also bring the body out of alignment. Without proper, gentle rehabilitation, the dominant muscles will continue to build strength and the weaker muscles will continue to weaken. Remedial Massage can help you to relax overused muscles and also to re-awaken diminished muscles. The nurturing environment of a yoga room accompanied with blocks, straps and bolsters, created the perfect rehabilitation environment.
With a strong focus on stretch, mobility and alignment, Yoga and Massage will help you to heal your body.
As humans we hold a lot of emotions in our body, Yoga and Massage can both help to shift emotional traumas related to injuries and other life experiences. Emotions can dig deep and cause an imbalance in homeostasis. Yoga and Massage help to release emotional bodies, to allow energy to flow freely throughout the body. If you’re looking for a qualified therapist to help you, then please book an appointment on our website.
Remember, all the lessons we learn on the mat we are asked to take with us and implement into our daily lives.
How you react, how you hold yourself, how you breathe.
Stay Conscious, Stay mobile, Be Humble.