Pre-Workout Yoga Exercises

Yoga is a great way to warm up your body before your workout. You don’t even need a mat or trendy yoga clothes to practice. You only need your own body and your breath. Doing yoga before your workouts warms up the muscles and helps boost concentration. So, you can spend more time getting stronger and more powerful in your workouts. Practicing yoga with your workouts can also make your goals in the gym more accessible and your work more effective. This article goes over some effective Pre-Workout Yoga Exercises to get you in the best shape of your life.

Working out religiously can put a lot of stress on the body. In fact, many people deal with joint pain when their workouts are too intense. So, it’s always good to compliment your workouts with gentle and low-impact yoga. Yoga is the perfect way for your body to recover from working out, but also to prepare your body for working out. And this makes you less likely to injure yourself. If you’re used to working out, but not yoga, the following Pre-Yoga Workout Exercises are made to be accessible for almost anyone. Check them out below!

Sun Salutations

The best way to warm up the body is to get the body moving. And Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara in Sanskrit) will do just that. With or without a mat, start in a standing position. Make sure your toes are pointing forward and all 4 corners of your foot are pressing into the mat. Work on bringing awareness to your inner arches and attempt to keep them slightly lifted throughout your practice. Line up your knees with your toes, and place your hips right over your feet. Stack your shoulders over your hips, and slightly tuck your tail bone so your abs connect more with your ribs. Basically, you’re trying to avoid dumping into your belly, so keep it tight, but not tense. You may want to initially do these poses in a mirror to ensure your body is in alignment.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

The first pose of the Sun Salutation series is called Mountain Pose. This is a simple, yet somewhat challenging pose. It may seem easy, but putting your body into alignment is much more difficult than you’d expect. Work to lengthen the spine and draw the crown of your head to the ceiling. You should feel as if every inhale stretches your body down and up, and ever exhale grounds your feet into the floor. Your hands should face forward at your sides. And this allows your shoulders to open. In our culture, we spend a lot of our time hunched over, sitting at a desk or on the couch. So, use Mountain Pose to open up the body. Breathe here and close your eyes to recenter and prepare yourself for your practice.

Upward Hand Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

In this pose, your body stays mostly the same. However, you’ll sweep your arms up above you. Many people like to face their palms towards one another, or keep a bend in the elbow. If you feel like your shoulders are inching closer to your ears, try to release them down towards your back. You shouldn’t feel tense in this pose, so release any tension and work at half the intensity. Keep your breath moving, and make sure to fill up your lungs, while releasing the air completely on the exhale.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

As you exhale, fold forward while bending your knees. Keep in mind, that you never want to lock your knees during yoga. In fact, when you bend your knees, your muscles have to work harder. You can bend the knees so much so your belly rests on your thighs. Notice how the breath changes here. It maty become slightly more difficult to take a complete breath. But work through it. Keep expanding your belly and your lungs with every inhale, and releasing the breath completely on the exhale.

Halfway Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)

Lifting your chest off your thighs, bring your fingertips to the ground, your shins, or your thighs. It’s more important here to have a long, straight back than it is to have straight legs. So, bend your knees as much as you need to lengthen the spine. Remember to keep the neck in line with the spine, bringing your gaze to the floor right beneath your line of sight. Draw your shoulder blades back, and slightly pinch them together, as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between your shoulder blades. Breathe and lengthen.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Going into this pose again, work on releasing the breath and the muscles. This pose should feel more restorative than hard work.

Plank Pose

As you exhale and deeply bend your knees, place your hands on the ground in front of you. Step both feet back, one at a time, until you are in a plank position. Spread your fingers, so your palm makes suction-like contact with the ground. Also, make sure your hands are shoulder-width distance and that the wrist crease is parallel to the top of your mat. Press into your heels, and notice if this shifts your hands in front of your shoulders. Adjust your hands so they are right below your shoulders. PS: You can also take the push-up variation shown in the photo above. And you can take a modification by bringing the knees down. Or you can do this with fists if your wrists bother you.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Unarguably the most popular yoga pose, downward facing dog is surprisingly difficult. But just know that it gets easier with time. From plank pose, just shift your weight and your hips back, so your body makes a triangle shape. Lift up your hips and work to straighten your back. This is another pose that may be more beneficial to you if you keep a bend in the knee. Most people are tight in the hamstrings, which makes their back round when trying to move into straight legs. It’s more important here to have a long, straight back. Keep pressing your weight evenly into your hands, with fingers spread wide. You can also do this with fists if your wrists bother you.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

One last time in this pose. Just walk your feet all the way to your hands, and hang heavy. To loosen the tension around the neck and shoulders, nod your head yes, shake it no.

Upward Hand Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

On an inhale (this is important, because an exhale in this transition can make you dizzy) come all the way back up and reach for the sky. Remember to relax the shoulders and face the palms towards one another.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Ending how we began, drop the arms to your sides and relax. Notice how your body feels. Feel free to do these poses again, and possible try linking breath to movement for a true Vinyasa. Basically, every pose transition either has an inhale or an exhale. Just alternate the breath, breathe slowly, and move slowly. This is how you develop the stability muscles that keep your body safe in your workouts.

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