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Why You're Feeling Sore After Yoga

As a yoga instructor, students frequently ask me, “should I feel sore after yoga?” Unfortunately, there is no easy one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Should you feel sore after yoga? Eh, debatable. Could you feel sore after yoga? Absolutely!

The soreness you may feel after class can raise some questions — do you regularly include flexibility training in your exercise regime? What style of yoga did you participate in?


woman doing yoga

While soreness shouldn’t be ignored as it may be a red flag for some common yoga injuries, it also doesn’t always mean you should never step foot on the mat again. If you don’t incorporate flexibility into your routine regularly, then the soreness can be normal. If the soreness comes from over stretching or pushing yourself too much, then that can lead to some of the most common yoga injuries.

Beyond your usual comfort with flexibility, different styles of yoga can leave you feeling more sore than others. Some styles of yoga, like Vinyasa yoga, use muscles that we don’t necessarily tap into with cardio or strength training, which can definitely leave you feeling sore after an hour class. Because yoga allows us to work muscles that usually lay dormant, adding yoga to your routine is not only beneficial, but it can actually take your exercise regime to the next level.

woman doing yoga

Incorporating yoga in your workout routine can be as easy as attending a class once every week. But, which styles of yoga engage the most muscles?

If you are an avid yogi, then you know that Vinyasa yoga or power yoga can cause your shoulders, abdominal and hamstring muscles to be sore and achy the next day from so many sun salutations and/or vinyasas. If you have ever walked into a restorative or yin class thinking “pshhh, laying on props or stretching the whole class, I got this,” and woke up the next day feeling so sore it hurt to walk or sit, then you did it right! Restorative and yin classes require us to hold postures longer and these specific yoga stretches get deep into our muscles, some that we may not use as often.

woman doing yoga

If you have ever participated in a Bikram or hot yoga class, you know the heat can warm your muscles and, sometimes, give you a false sense of confidence in added flexibility. This added confidence can lead to over stretching and cause some common injuries in yoga, so it’s important to know your limits and understand your body. Of course, if you overstretch then you will feel very sore!

Any yoga class that combines strength and stretching will increase the chance of you having some soreness anywhere from hours to days after class. In fitness, we call this Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, better known as DOMS. DOMS creates tiny rips/tears in our muscles and the feeling of soreness is actually your muscles repairing themselves to encourage strength and flexibility gain.

The important thing is to distinguish the difference between pain and soreness. Know your body and boundaries, and when to respect them or push past them. Drink plenty of water and keep returning to yoga to work out all the kinks in your mind and body. It will get easier the more you do it!

About the Author

Kristen Hopkins is a CYT 200 trained in Vinyasa, Hot and Restorative yoga with 13 other various fitness certifications living and teaching in Nashville, TN. She strives to make her classes adaptable to all levels while using inspiring playlist to allow students to become comfortable where they are in their journey. Most of her free time is spent traveling with her amazing husband to support their three athletic children or getting all the cuddles from their 4 rescue pups.

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