· to warm and loosen muscles, joints, and fascia: when a body has been mostly still for some time, tissues are cool. Moving right into deep stretches or challenging postures can create soreness or injury, which is why it is important to adequately prepare the body with a warm-up suited to the sequence
· to enter the body temple/ to become embodied: most of the time we are not fully present in this moment or in our bodies. Along with the Opening Meditation, the Warm Up continues to draw our attention to the present and to what we are feeling and experiencing in our mind and body. This will help us recognize what our body needs during this practice, and in general, the more we practice, will gradually bring us to have higher levels of awareness.
“One characteristic of our time is being ahead of the moment. A Namaskar is a pause, a return to center, a new relationship to breath that’s so extraordinary you can begin feeling a deeper rhythm taking you into this whole-body movement meditation. Then it begins to stimulate our awakening and devotion. It’s not the outer shell of the movement, but the inner flow, particularly the movement meditation, that brings on the state of transformation." - Shiva Rea
Time should be around 5-15 minutes, depending on what other postures will be practiced during this sequence and how much total time you have to practice. A shorter warm-up is adequate for a gentle sequence; a longer warm-up is required if you plan to practice some postures that are challenging for you, especially for very deep stretches. A warm up can also stand on its own occasionally when all you have time for is a quick 10-20 minute practice, followed with a couple stretches and short shavasana or meditation.
Choose your warm up based on what you would like to work on in the main body of your practice. Generally the warm up will be Dynamic: fluid, continual movements coordinated with the breath. Combining Foundational Asanas in a dynamic way is a great way to warm up the body. Namaskars (to bow to the essence of) are dynamic vinyasa* sequences that are repetitive, creating a meditation in motion. *Vinyasa means to place in a special way.
· For a yin/gentle/lunar practice options include: simple dynamic movements such as cat-cow, pulsations in downward dog, knee down warrior flows, Chandra Namaskar, other gentle flows that move one movement-one breath
· For a yang/strengthening/ energizing/solar practice options include: surya namaskar variations, warrior flows with invigorating chatturanga vinyasas in between, Core work can be included here.
· Alternative options such as dance, tai-chi, etc, anything that follows the purpose of the warm up and is paired with attention to the breath flow