A lot of people practice yoga as a warm-up session prior to their workout session. However, some types of yoga are a whole intense workout on their own and in these cases, you might want some warming up prior to your flow.
Should you warm-up before yoga? Well, of course yes! Preparing your muscles by warming up is always a good idea to prevent some unwanted injuries. On top of that, it improves blood flow to your joints and gives your more awareness with your body and breath.
How long should you warm up?
It’s a good practice to warm up for around 5 to 15 minutes to reap its benefits. Ideally, your skin should start getting warm and your heart rate start rising. The key here is to elevate those heart beats slowly but surely.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you finalize your warm-up duration:
- Have you been moving or sitting around all day?
With all common sense, you will need a longer warming up session if you have been sitting all day since your muscles are stiffer and colder as compared if you had an active day.
- How intense do I plan to practice?
The more intense the flow you’re planning to practice, the warmer you should be. This is to prepare your muscles and joints to avoid injuring them. You might want to start with easier poses and build up from there.
- Does my class already include a warm-up session?
A yoga class online or in a studio, more often than not, already includes a warm-up session. If you have been taking these classes, you will also have an idea whether these are enough to warm you up. If not, you might want to do some stretches and poses before the class starts.
Wait.. isn’t yoga a warm-up in itself?
A lot of people think of yoga as a warm-up because of the gentle yoga poses that are available. Although this is true, yoga is so much more than that. Yoga is a mix of balance, strengthening, stretching, breath awareness, and mindfulness. Thus, it can be a whole workout in itself contrary to just being a warm-up session.
Warm-up suggestions for yoga
Simple seated yoga warm-up
Below is a great sequence to try to warm your body up.
1. Easy pose
It’s not called an easy pose for nothing. Sitting in this pose with some quiet time helps clear and prepare your mind before your flow.
- While seated, cross your legs in front of you comfortably.
- Keep a tall spine. You may use a block or some blanket under your seat for added support if needed.
- Lay both hands on your knees or at your heart.
- Close your eyes.
- Take 3-5 breaths.
2. Easy seated twist
This is ideal to warm up the back and improve circulation.
- From easy pose, reach your right hand on your left knee and your left hand slightly behind your left hip.
- Twist to your left slowly as you gaze over your left shoulder. Be gentle.
- Lift through your chest and keep a straight spine as much as possible.
- Take 3-5 breaths and repeat on the right.
To furtherly warm-up your spine and your core, incorporate this sequence.
- Start on all fours with your hands and knees directly under your shoulders and hips, respectively.
- From a flat and neutral back, slowly arch your back and take your chin closer to your chest. This is the cat part.
- Slowly lift your head up and your core down as your back curves downward. This is the cow part.
- Repeat as you please.
4. Cat-cow crunch
This is a variant of the previous pose which brings a little more heat.
- From Cat-cow, straighten the back.
- As you inhale, come into Cow pose.
- As you exhale, come into the Cat pose while simultaneously bending your right knee as you crunch and take it towards your nose. Hold for one breath.
- Lower your leg back to the ground and repeat on the other side.
5. Leg extension to cat crunch
This is another variant of the Cat-cow. This will also help give your glutes some good stretch.
- From Cat Crunch, lift your leg straight behind you instead of coming into the Cow pose.
- Keep a neutral spine by engaging your core.
- Keep your toes pointed.
- As you exhale, come back into Cat crunch.
- Repeat for up to 3 to 5 rounds then repeat on the other side.
6. Child’s pose
You can always come back to this posee when you want to connect with your body and breath.
- Have your knees mat-width apart and bring your toes to touch.
- Sink your hips deeper towards your heels.
- Extend your arms forward and try to bring your forehead in contact with the mat if you can.
- Breathe deeply.
Stretching: Dynamic versus Static
Dynamic stretching focuses on stretches that incorporate movements. Examples are swaying side to side in forward bend or even peddling out your legs in Downward dog to deepen the stretch. It is said to be the most ideal type to do before a workout.
Static stretching is stretching with absolutely no movement. Examples are holding poses such as a pigeon pose or a seated forward fold. This type is the most ideal post-workout.
More yoga questions
Do I need to warm-up before stretching?
Warming up is never a bad idea as it benefits your muscles and joints against injury. Prior to static stretching, it’s best to heat your body up.
Can yoga be a cool-down method?
Yes, yoga can be practiced as a cool-down method. It helps decrease your heart rate and relax your muscles post-workout. A quick 10-15 minutes of yoga after your main workout can help decrease the occurrence of soreness immensely.
Should I stretch after yoga?
Absolutely! Yoga in itself, especially if you’re new to the practice, can induce some soreness here and there. Stretches after your flow can help lessen this and may also aid for better recovery.
Yoga, overall, is such a versatile physical and mental activity. Whether it’s for your warm-up, your cool-down, or even your main workout, yoga is always a great idea!