The warm up is essential to your workout so that you don’t get injured by diving in too fast. You can’t do many push-ups with a pulled biceps muscle, so you’ll protect future workouts and improvements if you take five minutes before you work out each day. You can also protect yourself from injury by checking with a doctor before trying this or any other workout.
Yoga-based SUN SALUTATIONS are a great way to warm up, especially if you don’t have 10 minutes a day to sit on the floor and meditate. The breathing with sun salutations de-stresses you while the moves prepare your muscles for work. One breath=one movement.
Mountain: Begin in standing position, called mountain pose. Inhale the arms overhead, letting the palms meet in prayer, and exhale as you fold forward, hinging at the hips, sweeping arms out to the sides and down toward the earth. Keeping a micro-bend in the knees for a light hamstring stretch – later you will straighten the legs more for a deeper stretch when you are warm.
Lunge: Inhale stepping the right leg back and, if it is your first time through the series, lower right knee to the mat, slightly behind hip. Lifting the arms toward the sky into crescent lunge, you stretch up while the left knee stays bent at a 90 degree angle.
Down Dog: Exhale and place hands on either side of the left foot, then step the left foot back next to the right but about hips width apart. Using the core strength, lift hips up towards the sky in an upside-down V. Keeping the fingers wide and elbows straight, but not locked, reach the heels towards the floor but not touching. Inhale slowly and fully here while pedaling one heel closer to the floor, then bending that knee and reaching the other foot closer to the floor to wake up the calf muscles. Exhale fully and bring heels back toward the ground.
Plank/Push-up: On the next inhale, shift the weight forward into a plank, or chaturanga dandasana. Your shoulders should be lined up directly over your wrists, abs tight and hips in line with shoulders, parallel with the floor. If it is your first time through the series, you can lower the knees to the floor in modified plank.
Exhale and keeping elbows close to your ribs, lower down (like a triceps push-up). If it is your first time through the series, follow cobra. If not, follow up-dog.
Cobra: Keeping hands under the shoulders, rest the belly on the floor and engage the lower back muscles to lift your head, chest and shoulders slightly off the floor. Picture a cobra with the snake belly on the floor but head lifted up. Snakes don’t have hands so don’t put any weight into yours, instead use your back muscles. Inhale through the move. You can always chose cobra instead of Up Dog (and I usually do) to add back warm-up and strength to your workout.
Up Dog: if you have done the series a few times, you can chose up dog for a slight back bend. From a hovering triceps push-up (chaturanga dandasana), keep the chest and quadriceps off the floor, flip the feet from toe balance to balancing on the tops of the feet and push through the hands to lift the chest and head while straightening the elbows. Inhale through the move.
Exhale into down dog again, engaging the core.
Extend the right leg high and behind you into “3 legged dog.”
Lunge: Inhale and lift the hips to swing the right leg through and between the hands, keeping knee over ankle. Lower the left knee if it is your first series. Lift the hands to the sky again.
Forward fold: Exhale the hands to the earth and step the back leg forward between the hands. Straighten the knees as much as is comfortable for another light hamstring stretch.
Mountain: Inhale and hinge at the hips, keeping back flat and sweeping the arms into a reverse swan dive to standing in mountain with hands overhead in prayer.
Chair: Exhale and lower hands to the knees or extended in front of you at shoulder level while bending the knees and sitting back into an imaginary chair to create warmth and strength in the quads and glutes.
Repeat: Inhale into mountain, exhale forward fold. Inhale stepping back with the LEFT foot this time into crescent lunge (knee up or down). Exhale to down dog. Inhale to plank, exhale to triceps push-up hover, inhale to cobra or up-dog. Exhale into down dog and into three legged dog with the LEFT leg. Inhale and sweep the leg through to lunge on the other side. Exhale to forward fold. Inhale to mountain, exhale into chair.
That completes your first series on the right and left. Repeat on the right and left leg 4 more times and you’ll be prepared for a warrior workout with arms, legs, back, core and mind warm and ready!