Unexpected muscle cramps can seriously cramp our style! One minute everything is fine, and then out of the blue, a spasm shows up. Sometimes quietly, as in the subtle twitching of an eyelid, other times, a full-on Charlie horse in the middle of the night. At their worst, cramps can be painful and debilitating. Big or small, cramps can also be terribly inconvenient!
There are many things that cause muscle cramps, such as:
- An imbalance in nourishing minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Overwork, under use, or misuse of the muscles.
- Medication side effects.
Regardless of the root cause, Yoga is an effective, safe, easy, and accessible solution for this problem. A gentle restorative healing yoga practice has the potential to not only help prevent muscle spasms, but also provide relief from pain – both during and after a spasm.
How Can Yoga Help Muscle Spasms?
When observing lightning patterns, we see electric bolts coming down, literally grounding the excess energy out of the sky during a storm.
We can relate this concept to Apana, the Sanskrit term for “downward flowing energy,” which we understand as gravity. After the storm, there is freshness, vitality, and clarity in the atmosphere. Grounding through all aspects of our yoga practice works exactly like this.
- Circulation of blood, lymphatic fluids and breath is critical. As the movements and poses tense and relax the soft tissues, there is a significant release of tension.
- Relaxation is an important part of your cramps prevention tool kit, and it’s also highly effective for pain relief. Yoga is an excellent way to relax the body. As we bring awareness to the breath, slow it down, and deepen it, the nervous system calms and the brain settles.
- Ayurveda, the ancient Yogic health practice, also advocates attention to nutrition and hand-on self care treatments.
Healing Yoga Tips for Muscle Spasms
- Hydrate: Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science of health, sees muscle spasms as an air element imbalance. An interesting co-relation is that dehydration is a critical factor in spasms. Keep hydrated by drinking 3 litres daily. Drink room temperature water infused with lemon or cucumber, or coconut water to alkalize your system and replenish electrolytes.
- Self-Care: Take a bath with Espom Salts to reduce pain and inflammation, and make time for Abhyanga self-massage. Spending 5 mindful minutes for a gentle and healing massage with warmed oils can make a huge difference. The oils also help pacify the air element and promote grounding. This practice is simple and so worth it.
- Yoga Poses and Breathing (Asana and Pranayama):
-An effective practice involves performing mindful physical movements and poses, with a focus on finding tension in the body, in a gentle way. Then, while focusing on completing the exhalations, we visualize the out breaths moving that excess energetic charge out of the muscles and connective tissues, and we direct it down into the ground. This grounding focus can create an incredible sense of lightness and suppleness in the soft tissues.
-Standing or sitting for long periods can be a factor in major causing muscle spasms, so circulation is key. Whether it’s active or gentle flowing movements or sequences, both improve blood and lymphatic flowing. If over exertion of the muscles is causing the spasms, or you are dealing with pain or injury, elevating the legs is very helpful. The Viparita Karani Waterfall pose, can be performed either on the wall or on a chair. Again, we use the awareness of the exhalations to ground ourselves.
-Take a long Tranquility Pose (Savasana) with soft, peaceful music, on the regular. Our highly mobile, WiFi-centric lifestyles exacerbate the imbalance of the Air-Vata element, literally and figuratively. So grounding purposefully for 20 minutes of deep rest at the end of your yoga practice is the sweetest of all medicine for reducing muscle cramps!
Try these tips to prevent muscle cramps and help manage pain, and let us know how they work for you!
“Healing Yoga” airs daily on OneTV | 6:30am, 8:30am, & 6pm ET / 3:30am, 5:30am & 3pm PT.