Massage & Yoga
Yoga and massage are actually more similar than you may think. Both practices detoxify and oxygenate the body by increasing blood flow; both can increase flexibility and range of motion; and both are excellent for relieving stress. And did you know yoga is actually a type of self-massage? It’s true! The twisting, bending, and folding that takes place during yoga actually massages the internal organs, making it an excellent way to gently promote their healthy function.
Great, so how do I combine yoga and massage?
You can’t go wrong by simply having massage and yoga both in your overall wellness routine. However, you may be wondering about the benefits of practicing the two in tandem, and what the best sequence is—yoga then massage, or vice versa? The answer depends on your goals.
Getting a massage before you practice yoga class will increase blood flow to your muscles, lengthening the outer layer of muscles and connective tissue and allowing you to stretch more deeply into your asanas.
A massage warms the muscles and “pre-stretches” them, so to speak, so you’ll likely be able to stretch farther and hold the poses longer. Thanks to its tension-relieving, focus-inducing powers, massage may also make it easier to stay present and focused during your yoga session, enhancing yoga’s meditative effects.
Remember, while yoga can be rigorous, it should never be painful, so if your muscles are sending you distress signals, slow your roll or take a break.
Getting a Massage AFTER Yoga As with the massage-then-yoga sequence, yoga-then-massage will allow your body to maximize some of the other benefits of both practices.
If you get a massage after a yoga session you’ll benefit greatly from the massage’s reduction of lactic acid that builds up in the body after exercise. This will help you recover more quickly (after any type of exercise—not just yoga). If the therapist is targeting deeper connective tissue and fascia, the effects will encourage your freshly stretched muscles to stay at their increased length—extending and compounding the yogic benefits.
If your goal is to achieve maximum relaxation through your yoga/massage tandem, then this is definitely the sequence you want. A calming massage after yoga can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Combining the calming, stress-relieving benefits of both—particularly with a massage designed specifically for maximum relaxation is an exceptional remedy for anyone who suffers from insomnia, or just can’t turn their mind off at night.
What sounds best to you?
However you choose to double up your yoga and massage practices, you’re sure to see exponentially increased benefits from both.