4 Yoga Poses That Seriously Reduce Inflammation
As a personal trainer, kickboxing instructor, and fitness model, I spend an awful lot of time moving my body in all planes of motion. On any given day, I may be found training a client bootcamp-style in Central Park in the morning, then running to a casting where I'm given ten seconds to show off my impressive tricks (i.e., jumping right into a dancer's pose without a proper warm-up) in the afternoon, then teaching a kickboxing class at 5 p.m., and finally ending the evening weight-training a client or two.
This extremely active lifestyle has its benefits (I adore my job and am never, ever bored), but it can also take a major toll on one's body. When I first decided to devote my life to helping others achieve their fitness goals, I was not aware of the impact it would have on my own personal fitness.
I've always been active, but this is next level, and at the end of each day, I would find myself exhausted, sore, and reaching for the ibuprofen to help with the painful inflammation (usually in my lower back, hips, and shoulders). But as the days went by, I was becoming uncomfortable with this new pill-popping routine I'd established. I live a sober life and really prefer to treat what ails my body holistically whenever possible.
So I did what made the most sense to me as an informed fitness professional: I put down the ibuprofen and turned to yoga to ease my sore, overworked muscles. Since adopting this "pain replacement," I've had very little pain, my energy levels throughout the day have improved, and I sleep more peacefully at night.
Here are my go-to poses to relieve pain and soothe my body and soul.
This simple asana is so effective, requires no prior stretching, and has the wonderful regenerative benefit of all inversions: bringing blood flow, and thus, oxygen, to the brain. It also relieves tightness in my upper back and calves, which are problematic areas for me.
Standing Forward Bend
This one is also super easy, and very effective at releasing tension in the hamstrings and hip flexors, which tend to be chronically tight when one spends a lot of time demonstrating jump squats and kettle bell swings.
I like to do a few cobras and warm up a bit before going into camel. This is a nice follow-up to the standing forward bend, as it opens up the shoulders, stretches the quads and the psoas muscles, and gives me a big energy boost.
If I had the time, I would stay in pigeon pose for hours, and my hip flexors would be very, very happy. Pigeon gets to the deepest part of the hip flexor, lengthening it and releasing tension.
Jesse Barton is a NASM-certified personal trainer, Wilhelmina fitness model and wellness writer. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the City College of New York. She trains clients throughout the New York City area.