Warming Up and Cooling Down Yoga Stretches

Warming up before and cooling down after is important for a safe and effective yoga practice.

Warming up

Warm up exercises increase body temperature, help reduce stiffness and improve circulation. Therefore it can help prevent the strain of muscle and joints.

neck rolls

This can can also help to prevent injury. They are especially important if you plan on doing a vigorous workout early in the morning, after a night's sleep.

At this time, spinal discs are more vulnerable to compression and damage. At night, they absorb extra fluid. (As you move throughout the day, the massaging action reduces fluid in the vertebrae.)

If you suffer from any breathing disorders, such as asthma, warm up exercises will help ease any occurrences during a workout.

Cooling down

Cooling down exercises allows static muscles to stretch. This is important, because it allows your cardiovascular system to return gradually to normal functioning. This can prevent feelings of dizziness and lightheartedness which are symptoms of a sudden drop of blood pressure from occurring after a workout. Cooling down also enhances flexibility, so you get total benefits from your workout.

These are seven poses for warming and cooling down. Neck Rolls, Shoulder Rolls, figure eight wrist rotation, ankle circles, butterfly, Lying Pelvic Tilt Twist and Rocking Horse

Play Warming up and Cooling Down Video.

Warming Up and Cooling Down Video

Neck Rotations

neck rotations

Steps for neck stretches

  1. Sit cross legged in a comfortable position.
  2. Relax your shoulders, arms and face.
  3. Circle your head in figure eight motion.
  4. Repeat this five or more times.
  5. Repeat in other direction.

Shoulder Circles

shoulder rotations

Steps for shoulder circles

  1. Sit on your knees or in a cross legged position.
  2. Close your eyes or keep them open.
  3. Roll your shoulders around in a circle.
  4. Repeat this five or more times.
  5. Repeat the shoulder rotations in the opposite side five or more times.

Figure Eight Wrist Rotations

This is a good pose to do if you type on the computer often as it:

wrist rotations

Steps for figure eight wrist rotations

  1. Sit in a comfortable position or you can stand.
  2. Rotate your wrists in a figure eight.
  3. Do this 5 or more times, then repeat on the other side.

Ankle Circles

ankle rotations

Steps for ankle circles

  1. Sit anywhere you can move your feet freely.
  2. Draw circles with your feet five or more times.
  3. Repeat on other side.

Butterfly Pose



Steps for butterfly poses

  1. Sit tall on your mat with sitting bones pressing into the ground.
  2. Pull your heels towards the pelvis.
  3. Allow your knees to open.
  4. Open up the bottoms of the feet like a book and push the feet into each other.
  5. Keep the shoulders wide and relaxed.
  6. Options:
  1. You can hold this pose for 5 breathes.
  2. Lower and raise your knees like a butterfly. Do this 10 to 20 times.
  3. Lengthen the upper body forward moving the chin towards the floor.

If you have knee problems, bring your feet out away from the body slightly.

Lying Pelvic Twist

lying pelvic twist

Steps for lying pelvic twist

  1. Lie on your back with arms stretched out at shoulder level.
  2. Bend your knees with feet on the mat.
  3. Bring knees towards the chest.
  4. Keeping you upper body firm on the mat, exhale and tilt both knees to one side.
  5. On an inhale, bring you knees as a unit back to centre.
  6. Exhale and tilt your knees to the other side.
  7. Repeat this motion from side to side 10 to 20 times.
  8. when done, rest in Corpse Pose and feel the effects of the exercise.

Rocking Horse

rocking horse

rocking horse on back

rocking horse on shoulders

Steps for rocking horse

  1. Sit on the mat with equal weight on both sitting bones, legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Bring your knees close to the body and wrap your arms around them.
  3. Make your back as round as possible.
  4. Inhale and kick backwards with both feet at once, to help you to roll onto your back.
  5. Kick forwards on an the exhalation following, to help you return to a sitting position.
  6. Repeat this back and forth motion five to eight times smoothly.
  7. When done, rest in Corpse Pose.

Omit this exercise if you are pregnant. Warming up before and cooling down after is important for a safe and effective yoga practise.