By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
The importance of warm-ups, before asana practice, cannot be overstated. The number one reason why we should teach warm-ups is to reduce the chances of student injury. It is amazing to listen to educated people, who believe that experienced students and teachers, do not have to warm up. This mindset that believes warm-ups are only for beginners should have its own mantra: “I am all that!” If you practice a physical form of Yoga, it only makes sense that you should warm up before asana practice.
Warm up time depends on time of day, climate/season, age of students, and a student’s lifestyle. For example: A morning class full 75 year olds in the northern hemisphere, during a cold winter, and in a chair-based society, might be as much as 30 minutes. An afternoon class full children, who live in the tropics and in a community with no chairs in sight, could have a five minute warm-up at the most. The average class, I see, has approximately 10 minutes of warm-ups.
There are teachers who say, “Yoga has far less injuries than walking and people die while walking every day.” Do we, as teachers, really have to resort to rationalizations? If just one student is injured per year on this planet, we should solve and prevent the problem. We are not throwing people out of planes. We have a better safety record than many other activities, but let’s aim for perfection. We may not reach it, but every Yoga teacher on this planet should try to give students a safe atmosphere for practice. Yoga’s reputation for safety has brought it to where it is today.
The few minutes you spend teaching warm-up exercises, before asana practice, is important for the whole body of each student. Every muscle, joint, and nerve responds to, and requires this necessary part, of any exercise program, including physical forms of Yoga. Be kind to your body and your students’ bodies, while investing in a warm up routine for these reasons:
Increases Blood Flow To Stretching Muscles
Nutrients are delivered to the muscles through your blood circulation. A body in action needs more nutrition to produce energy. Stimulated circulation improves this function.
Stimulates Better Blood Flow To the Cardio System
Your heart works harder during exercise. A proper warm-up reduces the chance for a cardio concern by improving muscle flexibility as you slowly go through a warm-up.
Raises Body Temperature
Injuries to connective tissue and muscle are reduced when the body becomes prepared for exercise; ultimately, use some of the pre-yoga time to be mindful and enjoy the present time. A determined focus on your breathing calms the mind and helps prepare for the approaching exercise routine.
Aids In Promoting Sweating
Even when you’re sleeping, your body sweats. This is a natural process that keeps your whole body moving at the cellular level. Sweating reduces heat that is stored in the tissues, and it helps the body to cool down. It’s like a natural air conditioner.
Prepares Your Heart For an Increased Workload
Warmed-up muscles are less susceptible to injury. Stretching and bending before any physical activity can help you and your students avoid much of the muscle soreness complaints.
Try some light twisting and bending positions. Shoulder rotations and spinal rocking improves muscle flexibility. Along with the cardio positives, it stimulates increased blood flow to the arms and legs.
Enhances Nerve Impulses
If you’ve ever experienced a broken bone injury that required future physical therapy, you have already noticed how your motor skills and nerve impulses respond positively to gentle manipulation.
Importance of Warm Ups
Now that you know why the importance of warm-ups, before practicing postures, cannot be talked about enough. It is so important to warm up before practicing postures, and all of your classes will become a more satisfying experience as a result of giving your students the full experience. Investing time, in preparing their bodies for increased exercise, keeps everything running smoothly. They deserve a healthy and vibrant life, which comes from a safe practice.
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Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE®
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HUBLEY-KOZEY, C. L., and W. D. STANISH. Can stretching prevent
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