Although yoga encompasses many individual disciplines, all of them encourage flexibility and balance. Part of that balance rests on the pelvic girdle and the muscles that support it, including the most massive muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus. Your gluteus maximi are the two main muscles of your buttocks; when they're sore, you cannot sit, stand or walk comfortably. If your yoga practice causes gluteal pain, determine the reason.
Gluteal Pain During Yoga
Deep forward bends, downward-facing dog pose and pigeon pose place stress on your gluteus muscles, including the mass of the gluteus maximus. If you feel pain during a pose, don't force your body into the pose; back off from it instead and modify it with the help of your instructor or rest quietly until you're able to pick up the thread of the vinyasa, or series of poses. You may feel muscles grow tense during a pose, but poses should never cause pain; acute gluteal pain during a pose could signal an injury.
Muscle Pain Immediately After Yoga
If your gluteus maximus pain sets in right after your yoga practice or within a few hours of it, seek medical attention if the pain is severe or limits your ability to move. Although yoga injuries are relatively rare -- Yoga Journal cites an American Sports Data estimate of two injuries per 10,000 yoga practices -- pulled muscles or strained ligaments can cause serious pain, especially when they happen to one of your largest muscle masses. For a mild pain, call your doctor and seek advice on a course of treatment; you will likely get a recommendation to rest the muscle for a few days.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, feels like a dull ache deep in the center of a muscle. It reaches its peak about two days after your exercise session. When you move your muscles in eccentric motion -- placing tension on the muscle in its outstretched position -- you're more likely to encounter DOMS. While DOMS disappears naturally over time, you can also ease the discomfort with over-the-counter analgesic medications, light massage, and gentle stretching.
The piriformis muscle, a triangular muscle that underlies the gluteus maximus, can compress the sciatic nerve that runs beneath it and along the length of the leg. When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, you may feel the pain deep within your buttock on the affected side. Asymmetrical yoga poses, such as pigeon pose, stretch the piriformis muscle and can cause flares of piriformis syndrome pain. Your doctor can diagnose piriformis syndrome and sciatica -- a related, but more serious inflammation of the sciatic nerve -- but if you suspect that such poses are causing the deep burning or tingling pain associated with sciatica, avoid them in your yoga practice. Seek your doctor's advice for continuing gluteal pain and discuss your yoga practice with your physician; full disclosure about the possible cause of your pain could help you find the solution quickly.