If you love to work out, then you know what it’s like to wake up and low-key feel like you’ve been hit by a bus because of how sore every single muscle in your body is. And while those unpleasant (but super rewarding) sensations make total sense the day after a demanding bootcamp workout, you might be kind of taken aback if you’re feeling unnaturally achey after your favorite vinyasa class. Like, can yoga even make you sore? Isn’t it ~just stretching~?
The truth is, yes, feeling sore after an awesome and invigorating yoga flow is completely normal. And though there definitely are classes on the more restorative side, it’s a total myth that yoga is always gentle, slow, or chill, and don’t even get me started on people who claim that yoga “isn’t enough of a workout.”
According to DOYOUYOGA, after a typical yoga class, your muscles try to repair and rebuild themselves from the series of physical asanas you just moved your body through — much like what happens after you do any type of challenging workout.
Feeling sore after yoga is totally natural, but you might notice you’re especially achey if you’re experimenting with new or more advanced poses, or if you haven’t been on your mat in a while.
Sara DiVello, a nationally recognized yoga and meditation teacher, and bestselling author of the book Where in the OM Am I?, tells Elite Daily that soreness usually comes from strength-based asanas such as plank pose, chaturanga, downward facing dog (which might make you feel sore in your core or shoulders the next day), or squat variations like chair pose, which really works your legs.
“There’s good sore: ‘I did a strength pose and my muscles feel tired/a little sore the next day.’ And then there’s bad sore: ‘Oops, I overdid it,'” DiVello says. This is why it’s so important to listen to your body and stay in-tune with what feels good and what doesn’t throughout a yoga flow. This will lead you to better understand and distinguish what’s causing your soreness, and if it’s the “good sore” or the “bad sore.”
It’s also worth noting, per DOYOUYOGA, that a lot of poses you’ll experiment with on the mat will likely require you to engage muscle groups you don’t normally use.
This is a good thing, of course, but it could also explain why you’re experiencing soreness like you’ve never felt before. Muscles like the psoas (located between your torso and your leg), piriformis (a butt muscle), and gluteus medius and minimus (muscles that help your hips rotate properly) will be working diligently during your time on the mat. And while this is amazing for the overall functionality of your body, it’s also a potential recipe for soreness galore. “Take the next day off and let yourself recover,” DiVello suggests. “Wait until you’re not sore anymore to use those same muscles again.”
If you’re looking for ways to recover after a yoga flow when you’re feeling sore AF, DiVello says she personally loves taking epsom salt baths. She tells Elite Daily she likes to soak in the water for about 20 minutes, and to take the relaxation and muscle recovery to the next level, she adds a few drops of soothing essential oils. “Ultimately, you want to make sure you’re tuning into your body and staying within your safe and feel-good limits,” she says.
It’s great to push yourself and try new things, especially when it comes to your workouts, but if something doesn’t feel right, or you notice you’re in pain, remember to listen to your body’s signals. Yoga is all about finding that sacred connection between your mind, body, and soul, and an advanced, fancy-looking posture is never worth a potential injury.