Many people come to yoga because their body feels stiff in some areas. Yoga is a great way to stretch, to increase your flexibility whilst also your strength. The breath is crucial in helping you do this, the deep inhalations expand your body whilst the exhalation allows it to soften and release.
As well as yoga I have also found, through having injuries of my own, a few things that have really helped me ease stiff muscles;
1) Self massage ball – You place this spikey ball on a wall and position yourself against it where you feel tight, it’s great for shoulders and gluts, then press into it. It’s an intense feeling, like the one when you have a masseuse pressing into a tight knot but you just know it’s doing you good! You can also get foam rollers which are great for tightness in legs. It’s also good to massage your feet with the ball as this will affect other areas in your body too. Revitalise where I teach on Monday’s and Wednesday’s sell the spikey ball in the link above. Studio 57 where I teach on Tuesday’s have a good selection of foam rollers.
2) Magnesium Oil – Magnesium is great for helping stiff muscles to soften. Better You (the brand in the link) do a good night spray and bath flakes which I have also heard are good but have only tried the regular oil so far. Just read the reviews on Amazon, it’s great! It is something you need to apply every day for a few weeks though, it takes a while to work.
3) Himalayan Salt Baths – Bathing in Himalayan salt completely rebalances your energy, it’s like doing a long meditation and I advise going to bed straight after as you feel so relaxed. You need to stay in the bath for at least 20 minutes so don’t make the water too hot and you need to put a lot of salt in, I put at least 4 big handfuls in. It’s detoxing, relaxes your muscles and replaces your body with lost minerals (it has 84 in it!). Warning though, if you have an injury that is inflamed, that you have been advised to put ice on be careful with a long hot soak as you might find it makes it more inflamed.
4) Taking the easy option when practising yoga. Yoga is great for reliving tension but if you try to force yourself into a pose then you will create more of it. As you practice yoga ease up, choose the easy option, stay in child’s pose for longer, just focus on your breathing. Do the poses that feel really good for your body, and avoid the ones that feel like a struggle.
5) Massage. An obvious one but massage really does help when you are feeling tight. It might seem like a luxury but it’s so worth it. I love relaxing aromatherapy massages but find one that works for your body. Thai massage and Shiatsu have really helped me too.
Emotions are stored as tension in the body, so next time you are on the mat and notice tightness ask yourself what am I resisting? What am I holding on to? Then mentally focus on letting it go, releasing it, with every exhale.