Warming up before Yoga sessions

Yoga, Pilates, Body Balance and variations, general stretching and flexibility discussion.

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How warm is your body prior to pretentious asanas?

I perform easy dynamic asanas first
Cannot begin without cardio
I am warm enough already
No votes
I start asanas cool
I don't think warming up is important at all
No votes
Total votes : 11

Warming up before Yoga sessions

Postby Blaz » Thu May 20, 2004 12:10 pm

Do you agree that prior to performing difficult Yoga asanas one should warm up - similarly to warming up before weightlifting? Easy Yoga asanas do the job quite well; but if it is really cold should one carry out some cardio or what?

It appears to me that yoga practice does not stress the importance of warming up - probably because it is so hot in India and warming up is unnecessary?
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Postby JO » Thu May 20, 2004 3:03 pm

Well, there's the brisk walk to the yoga studio that helps, and then a little limbering up before starting. that's when yoga goes the best. starting cold at home causes achey-ness so at the very least I have to start out with my physical therapy routine for the lower back.

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Postby Mary » Sat May 22, 2004 12:08 pm

I think I must be double jointed or something - I am finding it quite easy to get into the positions, but I must admit, your theory on the influence of Indian weather makes good sense.
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Postby stateofflux » Mon May 24, 2004 12:03 pm

Depends what you mean by a pretentious asana. A good teacher should go through a warm-up segment before launching into the dynamic or static postures of a Yang style class. You should do the same at home.

However, Yin/Taoist Yoga should be practised cold, according to yoga teachers Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, who is researching this style of yoga.

I would call Yin Yoga 'pretentious' by your definition (I think you mean 'challenging? complex?). It's one of the hardest forms to practise, not because of the complexity of the postures, but because you need to sit for long periods (up to 10 minutes a posture) in a posture, not 'holding', and being totally focused, yet relaxed.

So I can't really respond to the poll!
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From a Non-flexible human

Postby Blaz » Fri Jun 04, 2004 5:39 pm

[quote="JO"] starting cold at home causes achey-ness

Well, well, I was afraid it might be so! I have those unpleasant headaches since I started Yoga and I suspect the neck strain. :(

I am finding it quite easy to get into the positions

What a lucky girl you are. :) I suffer so much getting into some positions - I cannot even sit crosslegged and straight on the floor!

Depends what you mean by a pretentious asana

Oh - these are any asanas my body have difficulties getting into, because I am so non-flexible. Like Meru akanasana, Bhunamanasana, Setuasana, Chatushpadasana or even half-butterfly.

I am attending the Yoga in Daily Life course. I feel better when I warm up first, for example with Khatu Pranam or Sarvaganasana (candle). I just wanted to save time with Yoga – I try to finish morning Yoga in less then an hour, but this my not be a proper standpoint?
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Postby kls » Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:48 am

depends on time of day. if i practice in the morning (yeah right! lol! :D ) there is no choice but to start veeeeery slowly and be gentle or somethin's gonna pop.
bendy positions are much easier after i'm up and moving around for awhile. yoga after cardio is great for the ego...very bendy. other wise just a little something to build heat maybe some kundalini, breath of fire or a headstand (per Iynegar)
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Postby Kaz » Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:24 pm

Well, I just read this interesting article about stretching before exercise:


Stretching before exercise 'can cause harm'
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

28 September 2004

You see them everywhere, people yanking an ankle behind their back before setting off on a jog. It looks like sensible preparation for exercise, but it may do more harm than good. Not only does it fail to reduce the risk of injury, it may also hinder performance.

Research on 23 studies of athletes who performed stretch exercises before performance tests of sporting performance showed nearly all had a bad effect. One study showed that static stretching before a jump test reduced the maximum height by three-quarters of an inch. A review of six studies of stretching before exercise found that not one demonstrated it prevented injury. Ian Shrier, a Canadian epidemiologist who conducted both reviews, in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, said: "At first people thought I was crazy." But other researchers had since reached similar conclusions, he said.

The best way to prevent injury and prepare for exercise was to do a proper warm-up routine to get blood flowing to the muscles, he said. Doing calf stretches before a run does not benefit the leg muscles because they are never stretched in the extreme position while running. Almost all over-use injuries are strains that occur when the body is in the normal range of motion and are the result of improper training.

But stretching should not be ruled out. Dr Shrier, of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, found seven other studies which showed how regular stretching exercises included as part of an exercise routine improved performance. "If one stretches, one should stretch after exercise or at a time not related to exercise," Dr Shrier said.

James Brown, a specialist in sports medicine in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and spokesman for the UK Association of Doctors in Sport, said: "Stretching before exercise probably increases the risk of injury. Your muscles are never going to get warm. Unfortunately you do still see people doing it everywhere. You won't see elite athletes doing it. They will do a warm-up. If you go jogging or to the gym at lunchtime there is no need to stretch first."


* Start with a gentle warm-up, of the muscles you plan to use

* Increasing blood flow to muscles gets them contracting the way they will need to for the exercise

* Stretching after exercise is recommended

* Static stretching can stiffen muscles
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Postby JO » Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:41 pm

Certainly feels better to do it that way, Kaz: gradual motion, then ramp up, then stretch. I always stretch before I leave the gym.
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Postby scenthound » Fri Oct 29, 2004 3:10 pm

Warming up for a hatha yoga session will depend upon the level of development, limberness, temperature, and other types of activities. Extensive bicycling, running, lifting, etc., will have an adverse impact on limberness hence all the more need for hatha yoga. Stiffness is highest upon rising in the morning.

If you are struggling, like myself, to regain hatha yoga after years of lapse and finding it too painful, consider just doing the tree pose for a week or two. Then some trikona and other standing positions. Take a look at "Light On Yoga" if you can still find it. He lists progressive routines in the back of the book, putting emphasis on standing poses in the beginning.

Standing poses are effective and safe preliminaries. They also often engage more isometrics than some of the more advanced stretch poses which are prerequisites for extensive meditation.

By going through a specific progression from a standing start, the early work will be an in-kind warmup. After reaching an early plateau, a set of "salutes to the sun" might be all the warm-up needed. Ten of these will provide a startling degree of limbering.

In the mid-ninties I did nothing but yoga for endless hours every day for many months. I sit cross-legged for hours every day. Eventually, I became so limber that my knees felt as if they might dislocate while walking ten blocks up the street. I would have to stop and firm them up.

I suffered a bad knee sprain back in 2000, after taking up running after years of specialized bicycling and yoga. I was able to sit in a full lotus for hours at that time and the knee joint was too loose to withstand the running and after only several days of working up to ten or twenty blocks I was badly afflicted. That, unfortunately, ended the yoga. This time around I'm taking strength over limberness before going that far back into it.

I now see strength/limberness as necessarily symbiotic.
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Re: Warming up before Yoga sessions

Postby fitnessnoob » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:12 am

One of the exercises is Supine Breath
Lie on your back with your feet close together, knees straight, arms alongside your body with palms facing downwards. Take a few moments to calm your mind and relax.
Exhale deeply.
As you start to breathe in, slowly raise your arms up over your head and onto the floor behind you. At the same time, extend the heels by curling the toes up towards you.
Pause for one second.
As you start to breathe out again, slowly lower your arms down again and relax your feet.
Pause for one second.
Repeat until you have done this ten times.
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Re: Warming up before Yoga sessions

Postby Rob » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:30 pm

Yes I definitely think you should warm up first. But you don't need to do "cardio" per se. Simple sun salutation flows can really heat up the body, gradually increasing range of motion in warrior 1 and holding chaturanga, for example. I just posted some fitness videos on youtube and here's one on preparing the body - engaging the core, opening up the back and hips, before doing any yoga.
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