Can yoga be used as a warm up? Yes, and it’s essential for your athletic progress, wellbeing, and drive. Today, you learn what warm-up yoga is and how to do a pre-workout yoga warm-up flow.
Want to learn more? Read on.
Is it important to do warm-up yoga?
Before you do any kind of training, it’s generally a good idea to warm up your body to increase blood flow into your muscles, lubricate the joints, loosen up tight spots, and get in the right headspace.
A dynamic warm-up yoga sequence means moving while you stretch and it makes your muscles and joints ready for a more intense exercise. It not only prepares your body and mind for what’s to come, it also helps to prevent injuries, and increases your active range of motion to enable you to move better. All this can improve your performance and make you more present throughout your training, so you get more out of it physically and mentally.
Yet, generic warm-up exercises don’t always do the trick and can do more harm than good. That’s why we’ve designed several specific pre-workout Yoga warm-ups – blending Yoga moves with the latest training science, and including breathing exercises to activate your nervous system in the best possible way.
You see, yoga can have a range of benefits on everything from heart health to balance. That is what makes it such a great way to prepare your body for your workout.
The 4 must-haves of a good warm-up yoga sequence
How do you create a great warm-up yoga sequence?
Great question. Here are the 4 must-have elements of your pre-workout session.
1. Body alignment and check-in
You may be so wound up in everything that’s going on that you may not even realize you hold one shoulder higher up, shift the weight always to one foot when standing or simply that your posture is lacking.
By shifting your focus to your body alignment at the start of each warm up, and readjusting, you’re setting foundations to efficient movement patterns. When you actively engage muscle groups in a sequence from the ground up, you’re resetting your unconscious muscle patterns.
It not only enables your muscles to work with greater efficiency, it also provides more stability to your core, and it trains your brain to be more aware of how you hold yourself.
A short breathing exercise helps to clear your mind, makes you focus on the present moment and realize if there’s something that’s taking too much of your attention. A simple breath-counting technique, that we incorporated in our pre-workout mobility program, is all you need to activate yet also calm your mind.
It has a profound effect on your body because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – that’s the one that lowers your stress hormone levels, induces the feeling of relaxation and makes your digestion work like a dream. It’s the counterpart to the sympathetic fight-or-flight nervous system that makes you stressed.
Doing breathwork releases some of the mental and physical tension you may be holding, making you more ready to face everyday challenges, and it also brings more oxygen to your muscles and helps you breathe deeper during your workout.
Take a look at this quick video we put together for you to learn more about breathing exercises:
3. Joint lubrication
Before you start any kind of more challenging movements, it’s a good idea to do a few rounds of joint rotations. These will help to bring more blood to the tissues around your joints and lubricate them.
Well-lubricated joints are not stiff, they allow better, smoother and pain-free movement, prevent injuries, increase the joint range of motion, and make you enjoy moving around a lot more!
4. Dynamic mobility flow
Well-sequenced warm-up yoga is a dynamic mobility exercise that prepares your body for a workout better than static stretching. It increases your heart rate and brings more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, making them ready for training. The dynamic movements allow your body to gradually adjust to the changing physiological demands of your training session without making you tired.
Your active range of motion increases while your risk of injury decreases! This mobility flow doesn’t have to be long but should include all muscle groups so that your body is fully prepared to transition into your workout.
Take a look at our Skill Yoga app, where we guide you through our 10-minuteOur pre-workout mobility program.
How to optimize your warm-up routine
Getting warmed up and ready to go doesn’t mean you have to do a full-blown yYoga practice. In fact, that might be counterproductive just before your training because it could make you tired and, let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t have the time for it either.
It’s much better to do a short pre-workout practice, preparing your whole body, and targeting the areas that you will be using in your training more so their range of motion is at its best. That way, you’ll get the most out of your training and it won’t take longer than any other warm up you may be doing.
Optimizing your pre-workout fuel is also important. Your muscles store a convenient source of energy – glycogen – that will fuel any kind of exercise for about 90 minutes (60 if it’s an intense workout) before you start ‘hitting the wall’.
So you may not need a snack before your training but if you’ve been busy, are stressed or tired, a little nutrition boost might help kickstart your energy. It should be something small, carbohydrate-based or carbs with some protein (smoothie, energy bar, fresh or dried fruit) but low in fat. Fat takes longer to digest so it’s not your pre-workout friend. For a handy list of ideas, see our Snack smart blog post.
After your training, the way you cool down also matters, so your muscles and tendons don’t shorten, your recovery is efficient and you cut down the risk of injuries.
We thought of that as well and designed a post-workout series of short Yoga practices too!
Over to you!
There you have it. Now you know how to do a warm-up yoga routine.
Want to get started with daily yoga exercises? Try Skill Yoga for free here!