Whether you've sweated through the Ashtanga Yoga primary series or eased down into Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose) for the first time, yoga's dual focus on stretching and strength building may spell morning-after muscle aches. If your habit is to down a couple of pain relievers, why not try an alternative approach instead?
Ayurveda offers several natural means of relief. According to Ayurvedic principles, muscle cramps and spasms are a sign of excess vata energy. Vata qualities are cool, rough, and dry, so you can pacify vata-exacerbated muscle tension with moist heat. That means comfort can be as close as a hot water bottle or bath.
Don't have time for a bath? While it's not recommended for an acute strain or sprain (for which ice is a better choice), consider this more targeted Ayurvedic aid for sore muscles: Gently rub a tablespoon of massage oil into the muscle, cover it with a towel, and place a hot water bottle on top. Mahanarayan oil is best, with its combination of nearly 30 muscle-soothing herbs (including turmeric, fennel, camphor, and clove), but any massage oil will do in a pinch. The oil penetrates the skin to loosen taut muscle fibers, while the heat from the water bottle encourages muscle release.