Your textbook “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE,” provides a lot of great warm-ups, however, there are a few more warm-up stretches we would like to discuss. Keep in mind that not all warm-ups need to be an asana, a warm-up can sometimes be as simple as stretching your toes. Below you will find information on the warm-ups covered in your “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE” textbook as well as addition techniques that you can use. If a warm-up provided in your textbook is an asana, it will be covered in more detail in the Lesson Topics below.
- Pelvic Tilts: This involves lying down on the mat and slowly pressing your lower back against the floor, slightly rounding the back, and engaging your abs. This is a subtle movement that relaxes your spine. To help with this warm-up, you can have students place a small blanket under their lower back to gauge if their abs are engaged. If they can pull the blanket out, the abs are not engaged. If you can’t pull the blanket out, the abs are engaged. This move is particularly effective if you have a stiff back and need to loosen it.
- Pelvic Tilts with Knee Lifts: If you want to activate the abs further, and further relax the spine, you can slowly lift one knee at time. Be sure that the lower back is still pressing against the floor and that the abs are still engaged. Students can continue to use the small blanket as a gauge for this. Repeat this for a couple of cycles (typically 3-5 times per leg).
- Head Tilts While Sitting Cross-Legged: This is one of the moves that is often pictured with practicing yoga. While sitting cross-legged, you can tilt your head around in a circular motion to loosen the stiff areas in your neck and shoulders. Do not tilt the head back while practicing a circular motion.
- Trunk Circles: This movement is good for lower back problems and can be practiced seated in a crossed legged position or in a chair. Rest your hands on your knees, keep the spine/torso straight and then, from the hips, circle the torso towards the right. Make sure to breathe through this. Do this for a couple of breaths to the right, and then, reverse and circle to the left for a couple of breaths. For an example of this, watch the below video.
- Reach for your Toes: This is a very basic, gentle, and slow stretch that usually goes with a warm-up. This is similar to Forward Bend, Standing or Forward Bend, Seated. If you practice while standing: To assist with balance, students can practice against the wall or place their hands on a chair or blocks instead of going down to the toes. If practiced while seated, students can use a strap around the base of their feet so that they stretch only as far as is comfortable for them.
- Quadriceps Standings: This warm-up consists of standing up, raising your heel toward your buttocks, and grabbing your ankle. Hold for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side. You want to make sure that you are standing up straight and not leaning forward, so to assist with balance, you or your students can do this with one hand on a chair or on a wall. This warm-up stretches the quadriceps and helps improve flexibility.
- Spine Curve or Sphinx Pose: This warm-up asana is practiced of lying face forward on the floor in supine. With your hands on the mat next to your head (so that your forearms are flat on the floor) push through your forearms to lift your head and chest. Be sure to keep the tops of your feet and your pelvis grounded. This warm-up asana is good for strengthening and stretching the chest, shoulders, spine, and abdomen as well as firms the buttocks. It also increases body heat and circulation, which calms the nervous system and relieves tension, stress, anxiety, mild depression, and migraines. This helps relieve stress, backache, fatigue, discomfort from sciatica or herniated disks, neck pain, menstrual discomfort, and constipation. Students with pre-existing lower back pain should modify this warm-up and only elevate the torso slowly within a comfortable range of motion or skip this warm-up entirely.