Thanks for sending in your questions! Keep them coming by submitting them here, or on Facebook or twitter with the hashtag #yogaquestion. I don't have all the answers, but I'm happy to share what I know! Here are this week's questions:
Question 1: Candace, I stumbled upon your website on Pinterest. I used to be an avid yogi, practicing ashtanga and Bikram before I had a serious auto injury requiring neck surgery, a couple GI surgeries and then developed fibromyalgia and arthritis as a result. I have a few friends who are similar with the fibro and arthritis, and we are looking for the best type of yoga to do. I've tried some ashtanga recently, but just 10 sun salutations the other night put me in bed a whole day. Boo! I really miss yoga terribly. What yoga styles do you recommend my friends and I try?
Answer 1: Given that your body reacted so strongly to the more physical practice you tried the other day, I would try something gentler. Restorative yoga is usually gentle, and yin yoga is extremely slow (maybe 8 poses tops for an hour long class) and is also beneficial. If there's a heated slow class, that could feel really good on stiff muscles and joints as well. The other thing I thought you and your friends may want to try yoga nidra, as it's a guided deep relaxation that is fantastic for stress reduction and pain management. I hope that's helpful.
Question 2: I have so much trouble with lizard pose. While (it seems like) everyone in any class I've ever taken, beginner or not, can lay down completely or put their forearms on the flow, I have to be all the way up on my hands and can barely bend my elbows. Do you have any advice for other stretches/poses i can do to improve my flexibility or is just practicing lizard the best way? Also, if you happen to know any anatamy-related reasons why this might be so, I would be really interested.
Answer 2: I'll tell you a secret: lizard is one of my least favorite poses. It is just so uncomfortable for me, but I know this has to do with how much the pose has got going on for the legs. Don't beat yourself up - this pose is tough. The only thing anatomically I can think of that could be going on is some compression in the hips (the way the femur plugs into the hip socket), but usually that it something you can feel. If you had it, you'd probably be able to only go to a certain point and then it'd be like you're hitting a wall and can't go any further, whereas if you simply have tight muscles you can tell there is maybe a little bit more room for movement with each exhale. (I hope that makes sense.)
There are certainly other poses you could do to build the flexibility for lizard. Like I said, this is a super intense poses for basically all aspects of the legs- inner thigh, hamstring, hip flexor, and quad. So some poses that'd be helpful include frog pose, warrior 2 (sit really low til you feel it in inner thigh of front leg), standing split, low lunge. If you want to work within lizard, you could try modifying it as shown above with two blocks.
Most importantly, breathe deeply and evenly, and try not to look around the room and compare your practice to anyone else's. You'll get there, eventually.
Question 3: Hi, is it okay to do yoga when you are feeling sore/stiff from the previous day's workout? Should you wait a few days? I've heard conflicting answers on this.
Answer 3: Muscle soreness is known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is basically just the muscles getting these tiny tears that then build muscle fiber and strength. So should we do yoga or rest? I think it's a matter of personal preference.
For me, there are different qualities to soreness. Sometimes I'll take a yoga class that works muscles I don't normally use and I'll feel a little tight the next day. Other times I'll do something really intense (like a heavy leg day in the weight room) and I'll be so sore the next day that every single movement hurts. There's a difference, you know? The mild soreness usually doesn't stop me from practicing yoga (plus, there's always the option to do a very gentle, restorative class), but the more intense soreness will either lead me to work out another part of the body, letting the sore muscles rest (like if I had sore legs, I might do arms and abs), or if it's to the point that the soreness is so intense it's making me irritable or mentally putting me in a funk, I will take a day off to rest. It's just really important to be mindful of the quality of the soreness, and know the difference between an actual injury, and sore muscles. So long as you're not injured, I think it's fine to do yoga while sore.
PS- More yoga questions answered.