A gentle yoga warm up

This gentle, easy and quick warm-up sequence is great to do before a longer yoga practice, or as a stand-alone practice for beginners.

Yoga warm up sequence

1. Centering

Standing in Tadanasa / Mountain Pose.

Bring your palms together in front of your heart. Breathe… (use Ujjayi breath if you know how). The Ujjayi breath will help you become more focused and centered. In Ujjayi breathing, you contract the back of your throat ever so slightly, and as the air passes through when you’re inhaling and exhaling, it makes a very gentle sound. This will bring more awareness and control to the flow of your breath. Stay here for as many breaths as you need to find your centre and focus.

EkhartYoga members try out this tutorial on Ujjayi breath.

2. Upper body warm up 

Standing in Tadanasa/Mountain Pose.

  • Inhale, press your feet down, stretching your arms out and up. Inflating the top of your body as you breathe in. 
  • Exhale, release the arms back down, keeping your body soft and your legs strong. Repeat this at least four times, staying with the breath. 

3. Warm up your hamstrings & activate your back

  • On the last repetition of the upper body warm up, as you reach your arms up and out, hold your arms over your head for a breath. Press into your feet and reach up.
  • Exhale, swan dive down into a Forward Fold, keeping your knees bent at first, easing your body slowly into the stretch.
  • Inhale, reach your heart forward, extending the spine. Come up onto your fingertips or bring your hands to your knees, into a Half Standing Forward Bend.
  • Exhale, drawing back down into a Forward Fold. 
  • Inhale, pressing your feet down as you come back up, stretching your arms back and up. Repeat this movement at least two times. 

4. Warm up the wrists

Coming onto your hands and knees in all-fours (knees under the hips and hands under the shoulders), turn your fingers around so that your fingers are pointed towards your knees. 

  • Inhale, move your body slightly forward, moving with awareness and not pushing your body. 
  • Exhale, move back very gently. Repeat this at least four times.

5. Wrist mobilisations

Sit in Hero Pose (or simply crossed legged).

Bring the back of your hands together, with your fingers pointing down. Then bring your fingers towards you, as they circle upwards, rotating your wrists so the heels of your hands touch. Follow the rotation so that the back of your hands come together as you point your fingers away from you, circling them back to the starting position. Repeat this rotation several times before repeating it in the opposite direction. 

6. Neck Stretches

  • Staying in Hero Pose, slowly look over your right shoulder, then the left, only as far as it feels comfortable to do so. Move slowly and with awareness.
  • Bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Intensify the stretch by extending your right arm a little (45 degree angle). Take a breath here then repeat on the other side. 

7. Side body stretch

Coming into Child’s Pose, extend your arms out and walk them to the left slightly. Take your right hip and shoulder back. Inhale as you come back to centre and repeat on the other side. 

8. Mobilise the spine

Coming onto your hands and knees move into a Cat /Cow flow. 

  • Inhale, lift your heart, your gaze and tailbone.
  • Exhale, round the spine. Repeat a few times. 
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Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.