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Posted By Nina Monobe on Mar 18, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Whether you are an athlete or simply a fitness enthusiast, there are days after hard training in which your muscles will become stiff and sore. During this time, it is highly recommended to take the day off (passive recovery), but active recovery can prove to be more beneficial for your body than static rest.

Any activity that is less intense than your normal workout can be considered an active form of recovery, as well as massage, myofascial release and mobility exercises. The main goal of active recovery is to improve blood circulation to muscular tissue allowing it repair and rebuild faster.

Mobility exercises use the joint’s full range of motion to improve blood flow without overloading the muscles as it often uses minimum body weight. Therefore, Yoga is often thought of as a go-to exercise.

 

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However, one of the biggest myths about Yoga is that it is simply a type of stretching exercise. In actuality, only a few styles can fit into the “stretching” mold therefor, Yoga is more of an active form of recovery than a stretch. For instance, most of the Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, and Strong yoga styles, cannot be considered active recovery as they are designed to work, not only flexibility, but muscular strength and endurance by performing dynamic movements.

Yin and Restorative Yoga are all about slow movements and resting postures that increase joint range of motion and efficiency of muscles, helping improve overall balance, endurance and injury prevention. Most postures are also recommended to decrease the level of pain, as they create space within joints and can trigger the production of different relaxation hormones.

However, the benefits of yoga go well beyond the physical aspect. The mental benefits include increasing your body awareness and mental will power, which are crucial during extreme workouts and competitions. Yoga also combines different breathing exercises (Pranayama), which also help decrease stress levels, anxiety, fatigue and improve tissue oxygenation, therefore, tissue repair.

Below I will share with you my top 5 restorative yoga poses targeting different muscle groups for a full body muscle recovery. All you need is a yoga mat, a strap and soft yoga blocks. However, you must remember that each person has a different level of flexibility and medical background, so it is highly recommended to look for an instructor to help you modify poses and adjust your alignment for safer practice.

 

 

 

(1) Twisted Child Pose

Positioning into a kneeling position with knees at hip width apart, bring your seat bones to the heels and forehead to the floor. Adding the twisted variation, thread the needle.

Target muscle groups: Lengthens extensors of the spine, gluteus maximus, piriformis, hamstrings, tibialis anterior, peroneus and plantar extension muscles.

Twisted variation adds muscles surrounding shoulder blades and rotator cuff. It combines hip flexion with spinal rotation.

 

 

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(2) Supported Fish Pose with Diamond Legs

Set one block on medium height between your shoulder blades at the level of your thoracic spine, leaving mid and lower back free. Place the other block underneath your head at same medium height to keep your cervical spine neutral. Slowly bring your arms to the floor, relaxing the shoulders. For a more comfortable stretch, the blocks can be replaced by a bolster or pillows. Each exhalation brings your hips down to the floor and if available, bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees be heavy.

Target muscle groups: Lengthens pectoralis major and minor, coracobrachialis, anterior neck muscles, psoas minor, abdominal muscles and improve spinal extension (backbend).

Diamond legs variation adds a passive stretch of adductors and hip flexors.

 

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(3) Pigeon Pose or Figure 4

In a table top position, bring one knee forward behind the wrist and if necessary, pull the ankle in alignment with the knee internally rotating your front leg. Pressing with your hands, slowly straighten the back leg. If there is any pressure over the front knee, supine pigeon or figure four is recommended as an alternative.

Target muscle groups: front leg, most of hip extensors, including piriformis, hamstrings, gluteus. Back leg, psoas major, iliacus, rectus femoris.

Both poses highly recommended for sciatica, piriform syndrome and general low back pain.

 

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(4) Supine Strap Stretches

Lie on the floor, keep one leg straight on the floor in alignment with your hip. Other leg, use a strap if needed or grab your foot with your hands. Keeping shoulders and hip bones grounded:

(a) bring the leg towards your chest for supine hamstring stretch.

(b) bring the leg towards the side for supine hamstring, illiacus and psoas stretch.

 

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(5) Reclined Spinal Twist with legs extended

On your back with your arms extended out, bend your knees into the chest and slowly lower your legs to the side. As the bottom leg extends in alignment with your spine, the top leg extends crossing over the hips. Modify this pose by using a strap to allow you to straighten the top leg more comfortably.

Target muscle groups: iliotibial band, gluteus, piriformis, superior and anterior gemellus and obturator internus, multifidi, pectoralis major, obliques, intercostals.

 

 

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As you can see, yoga as an active form of recovery has all the stretches, poses, and holds to recharge your body and prime it for the next work out. If you're interested in learning more about yoga, ask your front desk about our group classes, we'd love to see you in our studio.

 

About the Author:

 

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Nina (Marina) Monobe expresses her love to help others through her veterinary and yoga practice. She graduated as a Veterinary Doctor in Brazil and moved to the USA to work as a researcher and teaching assistant while finishing her Ph.D. During her cultural transition time, she found herself practicing yoga as a therapeutic exercise to fight anxiety and depression. Nowadays, she is an Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor, AFAA Fitness Instructor & Cycle Instructor. Nina teaches a wide variety of yoga styles, from traditional Vinyasa Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga with meditation music to Power Yoga and yoga with weights with pop music. Her mission is to bring awareness to people that yoga can be fun and make you flexible, balanced and strong from the inside out! Find more about Ninaand her classes at

www.instagram.com/Ninayoganow

www.youtube.com/c/Ninayoganow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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