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Enhance Your Workout

20 Yoga Poses to Help You Relieve Sore Muscles

I’m sure we all know the feeling of having such sore muscles that it hurts to walk, or even sit down comfortably. When you are in need of accelerating your recovery and to relieve the discomfort from sore muscles, yoga is a fantastic option.  

A strategic combination of yoga poses can help you workout harder, recover faster, and relieve sore muscles, so you don’t have to walk around your house feeling like you may collapse at any given moment. 

Yoga and Sore Muscles

Yoga combines static stretching, dynamic stretching, and isometric holds, providing your sore muscles with several methods to improve circulation and increase flexibility.

Unlike general stretching that often emphasizes only one plane of motion (sagittal plane), yoga moves your body in all three planes of motion - Sagittal (front/back), frontal (side/side), and transverse (rotation). And since there are countless variations and combinations in yoga to target any specific areas that may need more TLC, your body will be quicker to adapt to the increased range of motion you acquire when doing yoga consistently. 

Some yoga asanas call for more relaxed static stretching, while others call for more active movement or isometric muscle contractions. No matter what type of yoga practice you choose, yoga is helpful for sore muscles. 

What Causes Sore Muscles

Even though there are varying causes for sore muscles, the most common cause of sore muscles is from overuse. Some symptoms you might feel are tight muscles or a limited range of motion.

If you are exerting yourself physically through sports, fitness, a job, etc. then you may be vulnerable to sore muscles. Sore muscles occur when you get micro-tears in your muscles from physical strain. These micro-tears materialize to help you build stronger, more resilient muscles and undergo a repair process for 24-48 hours. 

Even though sore muscles do not feel good in the moment, it’s your body’s way of telling you that they’re working hard to repair your muscles. 

Conversely, lack of movement can also cause sore muscles. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, your muscles may not be receiving enough oxygen, water, and blood flow to flush out toxins and stay fluid. In this case, sore muscles can be a cry for assistance. 

How to Relieve Sore Muscles Fast

There are many techniques to relieve sore muscles, but some of the most effective methods belong to an acronym called RICE

R - Rest - If dealing with sore muscles, resting the muscles you exerted can help hasten the recovery process.

I - Ice - If your sore muscles become extremely uncomfortable, ice can help reduce inflammation and desensitize the sore areas for better comfort.

C - Compression - Gentle compression can speed up muscle recovery due to constricting your muscles and preventing fluid buildup post-workout.

E - Elevation - Elevation helps increase blood flow to sore muscles and drain lactic acid. 

Does Yoga Help With Muscle Tightness?

One of the most effective ways to deal with muscle tightness is with yoga. Moving through gentle yoga postures can be soothing to your muscles without worrying about overexertion. 

Light movement is hugely beneficial to repairing delayed onset muscle soreness, and can recondition tight muscles to recover more quickly. Since yoga poses have an inherent ability to lengthen the muscles to increase range of motion and loosen tight muscles to improve flexibility, you will decrease tension and tightness as a byproduct. 

Ultimately, your muscles need hydration and oxygen like you do as a human. Luckily, yoga can help feed your muscles the proper nutrients it needs to ease muscle tightness and relieve sore muscles. 

Yoga Poses for Sore Muscles

Ready to relieve your sore muscles? If you’ve been coveting our go-to stretches to relieve muscle tension and stiffness, here are the 20 best yoga poses for sore muscles. 

20. Seated Forward Fold

The seated forward fold mimics a stretch you may seem gym goers use. While this stretch hits primarily your hamstrings, it can help with muscle soreness in your entire posterior leg chain.

Here are the steps;

  1. Come to a seat on your mat with your legs stretched forward straight in front of you. 
  2. Then, separate your legs about hip distance and flex your feet.
  3. Continue to pull the chest forward, hinge from your waist and reach for the tops of your toes. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Grab your shins or ankles if unable to reach your toes. 

19. Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch

The single-leg hamstring stretch has similar characteristics as the seated forward fold, except this stretch will emphasize a single-leg.  Single leg stretches can be better to decrease muscle tension and protect your knee, since you are unable to use your opposite side to compensate.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start sitting on the floor with your right leg straight in front of you and your left leg bent with the bottom of your foot touching the inside of your right thigh.
  2. Then, hinge at the waist and lean forward, and try to grab your right foot with both of your hands.
  3. If you are unable to grab your foot, place your hands on your ankle or shin. 

18. Ankle to Knee

If you have tight hips, ankle to knee stretch is a good one for you. This stretch forces you to recruit your outer hip muscles in external rotation, making for a good hip opener. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by sitting in a butterfly position, knees splayed out horizontally with the soles of the feet pressed against each other
  2. On an inhale, bring the right leg to be placed just over the left leg. The right ankle should rest on the inside of the left knee and the right knee should rest over the left foot.
  3. If feeling extra tight, you can use your hands to press your knees down. 
  4. Breathe and hold

17. Groin Stretch

The groin often gets tight due to restrictions in your quad, hamstrings, or hip, and can be a neglected muscle when stretching. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing in a wide base, with your feet wider than shoulder width. 
  2. To begin, bend your right knee and lean into the outer right hip while maintaining a straight left leg.
  3. Remember, you should feel a nice pull into the left groin. If not, make a wider stance. 

16. Supine Twist

Supine twist can reduce tightness in your spine in rotation. Since your spine needs freedom of movement in all directions to prevent injury, this yoga pose is great because it emphasizes mobility in a position that basic spinal stretches do not. 

This will help eliminate any back pain from tight muscles that you might feel.

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Let your right arm extend wide out to the right. 
  2. Using your left hand, guide the right leg up and across the body to the left.
  3. Now, let your knee fall to the left. Bottom leg stays straight. Release your left arm to the left and if comfortable, bring your gaze to the right. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side  

15. Reclined Figure Four Stretch

Reclined Figure Four Stretch hits your outside hip muscles, such as your piriformis and glute med and max. Since you’re in a reclined position, you can also protect your knee.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  2. Now, cross your left ankle over your right knee, so your left shin is perpendicular to your right thigh. Keep your right foot flexed.
  3. Then, lift your right foot off the ground and interlace your hands under your right thigh, bringing your right knee towards your chest. 
  4. To get a deeper stretch, use your hands to pull the knee closer.

14. Legs Up Against the Wall

Legs-up-the-wall is a more relaxing pose than some other yoga poses for leg flexibility, since you will be lying on your back in a passive position. The relaxation in the pose is helpful to calm your nervous system, so you can recover like a pro and release more happy endorphins. This is largely why stretching feels so good

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a wall and bring your bum as close to the wall as possible. 
  2. Once you’ve made contact with the wall, lower down onto your back and stretch your legs straight up the wall.
  3. With controlled breathing, your bum and back of the legs still maintain contact with the wall and just let your arms fall by your sides while legs hang up the wall. 
  4. Hold for 1-2 minutes.

13. Reclined Bound Angle

Reclined bound angle is a passive stretch that targets the groin. It can help restore range of motion from sore muscles. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a seat on the ground. Bend your knees and bring your feet towards your pelvis, pressing the soles of your feet together. Your knees should open out to each side. 
  2. Maintaining this leg position, start to lean back and rest your spine and head on the floor. 
  3. Breathe and hold

12. Low Lunge

Your front hip flexors are generally one of the tightest muscles on your body due to sitting for extended periods of time in a flexed, shortened position. The low lunge is effective because it targets the front hip flexor in extension.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a downward dog position
  2. Lean forward to your shoulders over your wrists and step your foot in between your hands, with your ankle directly underneath your knee to make sure the heel is firm to the ground. 
  3. Keep your back leg straight and strong and pull your chest in between the upper arms.

11. Cobra Pose

Continuing to open up the spine is a valuable technique when dealing with sore muscles. With Cobra pose, one of the beginner yoga poses for flexibility, you can accomplish this without straining yourself. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay prone on your stomach. 
  2. Next, place your forearms on the mat so elbows are directly underneath your shoulders. Lay hands face down onto the mat.
  3. After that, lift your chest and head up and pull your chest and chin forward and up. 
  4. Take 5 breaths.

10. Pigeon Pose

If you perform a grueling leg workout or run a lot, pigeon pose is one of the best stretches for you. Its capacity to target the outside hip makes it one of the best yoga poses for muscle soreness and flexibility.  

Here are the steps:

  1. From downward dog, bring your right leg forward towards your arms. 
  2. Starting off, swivel the foot so the foot is towards your left wrist and the knee is towards your right wrist - making the shin almost parallel to the top of your mat. 
  3. Then, drop your shin to the ground and drop your back leg as well. 
  4. To drop further into the pose, untuck your back toes to lay the back leg fully. Pull your chest forward and then begin to lay forearms down to the ground if accessible. 
  5. Hold 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

9. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is considered a resting posture, but it still has benefits towards muscle repair and improving back flexibility. The key is the positioning of your arms relative to your spine and hips. 

Here are the steps:

  1. From all fours, bring your knees slightly wider than hips, nearly mat distance apart. 
  2. Keeping big toes to touch, push your bum towards your feet. 
  3. Keeping your hips back, begin to lower your chest, head and shoulders to the mat. 
  4. Then, forehead releases to the mat and arms stretched long forward. 
  5. Let elbows soften and hold 5 breaths. 

8. Standing Forward Fold

Considered a transitional yoga pose, standing forward fold targets your entire posterior chain, from your low back down to your calf and achilles tendon. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder width apart. Put a slight bend in your knees so they are not locked. 
  2. To begin, hinge at the hips and fall forward, letting gravity pull your hands and head toward the ground. If unable to rest your hands on the ground, try placing them on your ankles or shins. 
  3. Breathe and hold.

7. Seated Spinal Twist

If you have sore hips or a sore back, seated spinal twist is an excellent stretch for you. Emphasizing the rotation of the hips and spine, this stretch can produce good results in a short period of time.

Here are the steps:

  1. Starting in a seated position with legs out in front of you.
  2. To begin, bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg so your left foot is on the ground to the outside of your right thigh. 
  3. Then, start to twist your torso to the left and place your left hand on the floor behind you.
  4. Using your right hand, hook your right elbow on the outside of your left knee. 
  5. Breathe and hold. Repeat on both sides. 

6. Lizard Pose

Lizard Pose has similarities to the low lunge, but the lizard pose takes it to the next level. With the amount of sitting we all do, attacking your hip flexors with multiple different stretches can be beneficial.

Here are the steps:

  1. Starting in a plank position, step your left foot to the outside of your left hand.
  2. If your hips are tight and need more range of motion, point your left toes out to a 45 degree angle. 
  3. On an inhale, start to drop your arms to the floor in effort to place your forearms on the ground.
  4. If you cannot reach your forearms to the ground, use blocks or a Yoga Strong Roller to add height and stability. 
  5. Breathe and hold

5. Triangle Pose

Triangle puts your hips into rotation, but incorporates a little bit more hamstring recruitment. Triangle pose is a killer stretch for your leg muscles when dealing with soreness. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. From Warrior II Pose, straighten your front leg, begin to reach your right arm farther forward to sass the hips back and create more length through the side body. 
  2. Once you’ve extended, drop your right arm down to bring your right hand to the shin, and your left arm reaches up towards the sky. 
  3. Keeping stable, hold the shoulders stacked and as little weight on the bottom hand as possible.

4. Bridge Pose

Staying with spinal extension to assist your ab and hip flexibility, Bridge pose engages your posterior hip muscles to improve circulation to your backside kinetic chain. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay on your back and place your feet on the ground, shoulders distance apart, directly underneath your knees. 
  2. When in place, pull the belly button towards the spine and on an inhale, press into your feet to lift your hips up and off the mat, pulling your chest towards your chin.
  3. Hold for 5 breaths.

3. Cat Cow Stretch

Cat-Cow Pose is one of the best yoga exercises for flexibility, as well as the ideal warmup pose, since the combination of flexion and extension of the spine can aid your ab and back flexibility.

Here are the steps:

  1. Come onto all fours with hands placed underneath shoulders and knees underneath the hips. 
  2. On an inhale, drop your belly towards the ground and arch your spine lifting your chin off your chest for cow pose. 
  3. On an exhale, push into your hands to round your back, spreading your shoulder blades wie and tucking your chin to your chest. 
  4. Repeat 5-10 breaths.

2. Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog may seem like basic yoga for flexibility, but it can be challenging and hit your hamstrings and calves pretty hard if performed correctly. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Place your hands on the mat, slightly wider than shoulder distance. 
  2. Then, step your feet back so your legs are straight coming into a high plank pose. 
  3. From there, begin to lift your hips towards the sky, pushing your bum up and back. 
  4. Staying grounded, keep the heels moving towards the mat and find a slight bend of the knees. 
  5. Remember, keep all 10 fingers firm to your mat and externally rotate your upper arms by wrapping your triceps back towards your feet like you are twisting off a jar.

1. Head to Knee Pose

Seated postures are great for improving flexibility without overloading your joints. This allows you to stay grounded in each pose and maximizes blood flow to help reduce muscle soreness.

Here are the steps:

  1. Starting in a seated position with legs out in front of you, bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot to your left inner thigh. Your right knee should be opened out to the right side.
  2. To start, hinge at your hips and reach towards your left foot. Try to keep your hips as square to your left leg as possible. 
  3. Remember, if you are unable to reach your foot, grab your left shin or ankle. 
  4. Once your hands are secure, try to drop your head towards your knee.
  5. Breathe and hold