Have you ever heard of Yoga Butt?

 

Yoga butt is a type of exercise injury. The technical term is called proximal hamstring tendinopathy, it is an irritation or inflammation of the hamstring tendons at their attachment site on the ischial tuberosity. (the sitting bone)

In the context of the yoga practice, one of the main contributing factors is repeatedly doing poses that require end range of motion hip flexion. This includes:

  • Deep Forward Fold

  • Compass Pose

  • Splits

  • any pose where the foot is put behind the head

Since tendons, ligaments have a limited amount of elasticity, these kinds of poses can cause the tendons and ligaments to become overstretched and inflamed.

In this sense, hamstring tendinopathy does not occur only if its overuse, but also from overloading e.g. the tissues haven’t been subjected enough practice and have therefore not have the ability to tolerate the stress of certain movements or joint positions, resulting in pain and irritation.

Common symptoms include a deep ache or pain in the glute. The ischial tuberosity (sit bone) where the hamstring inserts. It can feel tight or a mild strain. 

The deep knot-like feeling in the piriformis muscle can even manifest as sciatic symptoms and tingling or numbness down the leg. This is because the piriformis goes directly over the sciatic nerve in some individuals.

Avoid any positions or movements that trigger these symptoms, or modifying certain poses in yoga to prevent aggravation. In order to reduce the likelihood of yoga butt in the long term, once the inflammation subsides, you’ll want to start training the tissues regularly. This will help them get stronger and develop better overall function and capacity to tolerate stress. When you feel that the training is manageable, you can progress to more challenging movements like eccentrics, plyometrics and increase the load. Just remember that yoga is a lifestyle and not a competition. Progression might be slow, so it pays to manage your own expectations and be patient as you undertake more difficult poses.

A lot of yoga poses can help to improve and strengthen hamstring and glutes muscle, such as:

  • Warrior Pose III (Virabhadrasana III)

  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

  • Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

  • Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

  • Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)

  • 1-Legged Dog (Eka Pada Ahdo Mukha Svanasana)

  • Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

  • Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3)

  • Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

 

Take a break

If you are experiencing yoga butt, research says to take a break from stretching the hamstring or moving towards your full range of motion.

Tips to prevent yoga injury

Additional tips include:

  • Keep your knees bent.

  • Use blocks under your hands to keep from “hanging out” on your joints.

  • Focus on engaging your quads in Forward Folds or other hamstring-openers to avoid overstretching.