Is It Important To Warm Up For Yoga?
One issue that seems to divide the world of yoga is whether or not a warm-up is required before a yoga session.
Some feel that a warm-up is essential before any form of exercise, yoga included, whilst others feel it is not entirely necessary for yoga. After all, many warm-ups include stretching as a precursor to testing the muscles further. Yoga is essentially all about stretching, so some feel warming up is almost a waste of time. Indeed, Yogigo even believe a cold stretch can have a counterproductive effect on the muscles ahead of a yoga session. Why perform small stretches when the whole point of the session is to stretch?
That’s one train of thought, but others believe that warming up is a key part of their yoga sessions. Here’s why.
What is Warming Up?
Firstly, we must consider why one warms up for anything. It prepares the body for physical activity whilst avoiding the risk of injury. If that is simply easing your body into a yoga session with a series of stretches, then so be it. Health resource SymptomFind describes having stretched muscles as a great way to prevent injuries, and therefore a simple routine of stretching ahead of a yoga session is a good way to ease into something more strenuous.
How Can I Warm Up?
It’s important to remember that we’re not warming up for exercise in the usual sense, so there’s no benefit in limbering up as if you’re going on a five-mile run. Indeed, part of the warm-up is feeling comfortable and transitioning into the yoga session. So, you might incorporate part of our article ‘Creating the Perfect Space for Yoga’ into your routine, a form of preparation and ritual ahead of a session. You may need to prep the smells and sounds which is part of a warm-up of sorts. Of course, it isn’t the traditionally accepted image of a warm-up, but it will form part of your body and mind becoming ready for yoga.
A good yoga teacher will then have a warm-up session in the more literal sense, which could incorporate some very basic poses to ease you in. This might feel like part of a general yoga session, but if you are used to intense yoga, these are very much just warm-ups for later. One popular pose to start with is sun salutations. These are a nice starter to a session and can prepare you for the more demanding poses that strain your muscles. They will also stimulate blood flow and help circulate synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints.
Can Warming Up For Yoga Be Counter-Productive?
Going back to the top of this piece, can those cold stretches genuinely damage your enjoyment of a yoga session or put your body at more risk? The answer is possibly, if not done right.
For instance, much depends on the time of day or year. The body is usually stiffer in the morning, and mobility decreases, so a gentle warm-up isn’t a bad thing. The same goes for the winter months when the muscles tend to be tighter. These are the times when perhaps a warm-up is needed.
Of course, the opposite is also true; if it’s a warm day and you’ve already been fairly active, even just bringing your yoga mat into the garden and clearing the space, then a gentle warm-up may not be required. It also depends on how intense your workout is going to be. If you’re doing an intense session for prolonged periods, it is best to prepare your body somehow. If you intend to do a gentle session on a warm day, it certainly will not do you any harm to skip the warm-up.