Yoga Butt: Understanding, preventing and healing gluteal tension in Yoga

Une photo d'Ashtangi Nomad où on montre la douleur causée par le Yoga Butt

Written by Mylene C.

Entrepreneure nomade. Yogini. Hypersensible et perfectionniste.

April 2, 2024

If you practice yoga and you don’t understand why for a while, you have pain in your buttock. This article is for you. I am one of those who unfortunately suffers from it. So much so that for years, I’ve had this pain and let me tell you that you don’t want it to becomes chronic, like mine. Prevention is better than cure! Believe me, becausethis pain is painful and can sap your morale. In this article, I will help you better understand, prevent and cure gluteal tension in Yoga. Yoga Butt, no thanks!

Discover Yoga Butt

I offer you this caring guide to avoid and overcome this distressing inflammation. However, imagine a perfect day: you put on your favorite leggings for your yoga session. You are ready to immerse yourself in fluid and relaxing postures. But suddenly you feel discomfort in your glutes. Oh no, it’s the “Yoga Butt” that is showing up! A kind of pinching pain. And know that you can feel it all along the leg, like in my case. I don’t want that to happen to you!

What is Yoga Butt?

Yoga Butt is this moment when the glutes decide to protest against a too intensive sequence. Because it’s as if your muscles are saying: “Hey, we love yoga, but now we need a little rest!”. First, “Yoga Butt” is a term that refers to pain or tension felt in the glutes after or during a yoga practice. This can happen due to overexertion of the gluteal muscles. Often associated with poor technique or a lack of warm-up and possibly during movements repeated too regularly.

In medical jargon, a glute injury from yoga is better known as proximal hamstring tendonitis. Or high hamstring tendinopathy or even piriformis syndrome. Tendonitis is related to overload, compression and swelling of the tendon which causes pain during movements or stretches such as forward bending. Or simply the downward dog pose when the knees are extended. Occasionally, the pain may spread further down the thigh. And, lucky as I am, my sciatic nerve is caught in this mass of muscles and tendons. It must be said that I feel the pain all the way to the tips of my toes.

However, the fact that I work sitting in a chair all day long doesn’t help my cause at all. Attention ! Yoga Butt can lead to tendon degeneration, partial tears, and peritendinous inflammatory reactions. Once this pain becomes chronic, its poor vascularization makes healing difficult.

Tips to Cure Yoga Butt

  1. Take rest: If you feel persistent pain, take some rest. Yoga should benefit your body, not cause stress. If like me, you are an Ashtangi who gets up every morning at dawn to repeat the same sequence, this will not help you heal. However, I advise you to take it slowly. s-l-o-w-l-y! Because you are not on your mat to perform. While your injury heals, practice your asanas at maximum 75% of your capacity.
  2. Gentle stretches: Before and after a yoga session, take a few minutes to gently stretch your muscles. This will help prevent tension. Never skip warming up! Take the time to prepare your body before entering into bending postures.
  3. Beneficial massage: nothing like a good massage to relax your glutes. You can do it yourself or ask someone to help you. Use a foam roller or massage balls to relax the gluteal muscles and improve blood circulation. Personally, I like to use this ball that I roll under my buttock directly on the floor. It is practical and I can take it with me on trips, everywhere. Above all, listen to your body and be kind to yourself.
  4. Variety of postures: alternates between dynamic postures and relaxation postures. This will prevent you from overloading the same muscles each session. Don’t hesitate to modify your sequence. As soon as you feel pain, don’t go any further in the posture. Practice Yin Yoga!
  5. Use of accessories: blocks, straps and blankets can be your best allies for adapting postures to your level and avoiding unnecessary tension. Leave your ego out of the picture, you have nothing to prove to anyone! The use of accessories will be greatly beneficial. Remember that yoga is a journey, not a destination.

Preventive exercises against Yoga Butt

Here are some stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent Yoga Butt. Don’t hesitate to try them during your next session.

  • Pigeon pose: adopt pigeon pose to gently stretch the glutes. I talk about it in my April Newsletter! Sign up to receive it!
  • Strengthened Bridge Pose: Lie on your back, bend your knees and lift your hips to strengthen your gluteal muscles.
  • Quadriceps Stretch: Standing, grab an ankle and bring your foot toward your butt to stretch your quads and relieve your glutes. You can also do this exercise lying on your back.

Note: Always consult a healthcare professional or yoga teacher if you have persistent pain.

Yoga Butt in perspective

To conclude, let’s keep in mind that yoga is a practice of listening to and respecting our body. If the Yoga Butt manifests itself, don’t consider it a failure. But as a learning opportunity about your limits and your needs.

To learn more about this injury and discover specific exercises to prevent tension, consult trusted online resources like this video created by David & Jelena, my Yogi friends and mentors! You can ask for help from an experienced yoga teacher or ask me all your questions in the comments.

So, take care of yourself and your glutes, and continue to enjoy your yoga practice with kindness!

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