Stretching And Warm-Up Exercises Before Practicing Yoga

By Patricia | December 11, 2008
Stretching And Warm-Up Exercises Before Practicing Yoga

Stretching and warming up prior to performing any exercise is extremely important. It ensures that your muscles and joints are sufficiently warmed up and lubricated and helps to avoid injuries such as sprains and strains.

Yoga is an excellent way of stretching and warming up your body before an actual workout. In fact, a yoga technique known as the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is one of the best ways of ensuring that your body is ready to perform any workout, no matter how strenuous. The Surya Namaskar consists of a series of twelve poses that are performed in a fluid and dynamic manner along with regulated breathing. They gently stretch and warm up the entire body.

Ideally, the Surya Namaskar should be performed early in the morning. It is an important component of most schools of yoga. However, the Surya Namaskar can also be safely and effectively practiced in isolation as a complete warm up routine. Here’s how you can perform the Surya Namaskar.

Step One: Stand straight with both feet together. Bring your hands together with palms touching as if in a traditional Indian salutation (Namaskar).

Step Two: Inhale deeply and raise your arms up above your head. Slowly arch your back and bend as far back as you can with your hands raised and still inhaling.

Step Three: Now bend forward slowly, while exhaling, and touch your toes with your fingertips. Your head should touch your knees. If you are unable to go all the way down, you may bend your knees a bit.

Step Four: Inhale and take a large backward step with your right foot (as if about to perform a lunge). Your left leg should be bent at the knee and your hands and left foot should be planted firmly on the ground.     Raise your head by arching your neck. Feel the stretch!

Step Five: Slowly exhale and bring the left foot back until it is in line with the right. Your weight will now be supported on both hands and feet (as if about to perform a push up). Now raise your hips so that your buttocks are higher than your head, and your head is in line with your arms.

Step Six: Exhale and lower your body gently to the floor. You should be lying on your abdomen with your arms tucked in towards your sides.

Step Seven: While keeping your hips to the floor, inhale and arch your back, neck, and head as far back as possible.

Step Eight: While exhaling, gently return to the posture described in Step Five.

Step Nine: Continue exhaling and return to the posture described in Step Three.

Step Ten: Inhale and take a large backward step with your left foot this time. Your right leg should be bent at the knee and your hands and right foot should be planted firmly on the ground. Raise your head by arching your neck.

Step Eleven: Inhale and raise your arms upward. Slowly bend backward at the same time stretch your arms above your head.

Step Twelve: Return to the starting posture in Step One.

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