Do not forget to stretch. You’ve heard that sage advise countless times before going full-speed in any fitness activity. Stretching is critically important to the sport of Yoga as well. When you arrive early for your hot yoga class, you’ll notice your fellow students running through simple stretches on their mats. Though most yoga classes start with a warm-up sequence, it is a good idea for you to go through a few basic poses on your own that will help get you ready for the session ahead. In addition to preparing your physical body, you will get into your yoga mindset, providing an important separation from the rest of your day.
Ten stretches to help you warm up for HOT YOGA:
- Pelvic Tilts. Begin by lying down on your back with your knees bent for a few pelvic tilts.
- Leg Stretch. Begin to work your legs by lifting them perpendicular to the floor, either one at a time or both together. With your low back firmly rooted and your pelvis neutral, lift one leg off the floor and aim the sole of your foot at the ceiling. Keep the other foot on the floor or bring it up to join the first one.
- Eye of the Needle Pose. To do these, press your lower back gently against the floor, tilting your pelvis toward your face, and then release it. Remaining on your back, cross your right ankle over the opposite knee for the eye of the needle pose (Sucirandhrasana). Since you are just getting started, you can keep your left foot on the floor, especially if you have tight hips.
- Easy Pose. For easy pose (Sukhasana) come up to sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Place one or two folded blankets under your seat so that your knees are lower than your hips. Do a few neck rolls here. First, let your chin drop toward your chest. Then roll your chin over to the left shoulder, circle the head back, then bring the chin to the right shoulder. Continue circling slowly, moving through any areas of tightness, for about five rotations. Then do an equal number of rotations in the opposite direction.
- Eagle Arms. While staying seated in easy pose, take the arm position for eagle pose (arms crossed, bent, and parallel to the floor). This gives you a really nice stretch across the shoulder blades and at the back, an area that is otherwise hard to stretch. If you do the position with the right arm on top first, make sure to spend equal time with the left arm on top.
- Easy Twist. Keep your legs in easy pose and twist to the right, bringing your left hand to your right knee and the right hand behind your back. Take your gaze gently over your right shoulder. Then twist to the left, bringing the right hand to your left knee and the left hand behind your back, gazing over your left shoulder. Remember that this is just a warm up, so this shouldn't be your deepest twist.
- Cat-Cow Stretch. Since you are doing this on your own, take care to synchronize your body to your breath, letting the breath initiate the movement. Begin each motion in your tailbone, letting it ripple up the spine until your head is the last thing to move.
- Downward Facing Dog. You may want to come into a downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), primarily to stretch out the legs one last time. Pedal the heels up and down here to lengthen the calves and hamstrings.
- Child’s Pose. Child’s Pose (Balasana) is always a good addition to a warm-up routine. Though often thought of simply as a resting pose, child's pose also offers a nice stretch for the hips and thighs and gives you a chance to turn your attention inward in preparation for your upcoming class. To get into child’s pose, start by sitting on your heels with your big toes together. Separate your knees to a comfortable width apart—at least as wide as your hips or to the edge of the mat.Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs resting your head on the mat. Extend your spine and lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso.
- Goddess Pose. Many people like to await the start of class in goddess pose (Utkata Konasana)—a standing wide-legged squat—to further open the hips, foregoing the previously mentioned poses. If this is your preference, by all means, do it.
Keep in mind that you do not need to do the fullest expression of each of these poses because you are just starting to move your body and shake off the cobwebs. You will just choose from any of these stretches just to relieve tension at the end of the day. Only through internal focus will you receive the full benefits of HOT YOGA practice. At the end of your class, stay in sav asana for at least a few minutes. This is where you reap the benefits of all our hard work during practice. Take these moments to relax and just be.
Do not forget to choose stretching over stressing! Happy stretching! For more tips on Hot Yoga, contact Answer is Fitness.