A great spine warm up sequence

Warming up the spine

Spine is made out of 33 individual bones and is the biggest support for your body. It is very important to warm up the muscles, joints and ligaments around the spine before you try to do any advance yoga postures. A great way to warm up is practicing the Sun Salutations, as it really does get your heart rate up and warms up all the muscles. However, I prefer, even before the Sun Salutations, to do a few warm up exercises on the floor as our spines have to be really pampered and taken care of. Although our spines are designed to carry weight, bend, twist and support us, it takes one wrong move to injure the spine, especially if practicing advance yoga postures without supervision. 

Here is a short video of my favourite spine warm up. 

  1. Start on all fours and do a few (5-10) Cat Cow stretches. (Flexion and Extension)
  2. Then continue with a circle motion movement (as demonstrated in the video) of the spine. Make 5 circles to the right and 5 circles to the left. (Adding Lateral Flexion and Reduction)
  3. Then we continue with some gentle spinal twists and shoulder stretch as demonstrated in the video. 5 breaths each side. (Rotation)
  4. Then relax in child's pose for a few breaths. 
  5. If preparing for some backbends: From all fours keep your hips up towards the ceiling and lower your chest down with arms extended in front of you. (Hyper Extension)
  6. And the last one, if your spine is extra flexible, you can try straightening your legs, for an even deeper Hyper extension.
  7. Finish off with a child's pose and you are ready for some yoga fun :) 

A short time lapsed insight of a yoga class with Anna Makarova.

A short time lapsed insight of a yoga class with Anna Makarova.

"Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn't have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can't practice Ashtanga yoga"
-K Pattabhi Jois- 

Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskara A) for beginners

Here is a short video and text below of me practicing Sun Salutation A with explanations and modifications for beginners. 

  1. Start with standing straight in Tadasana. Feet together, strong legs, long spine, strong abs and keep your ribcage closed. Gaze in front of you. Take a few deep breaths.
  2. Inhale, take your arms up, palms together and gaze at your palms, keep your ribcage closed.
  3. Exhale fold forward. You can have your knees bent as much as you need to with palms on the floor or have your knees straight and palms are on your legs. You need to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. If you can then have your legs straight and palms on the floor. 
  4. Inhale, lengthen your spine and look up
  5. Exhale, bend your knees, palms on the floor and step back to Chaturanga. Lower your knees if you feel that you don't have enough strength in your core and your shoulders. Keep your body straight and your shoulders above your wrists. Now bend your arms with elbows close to your body. You can lower your body on the mat or if you can keep it slightly off the floor so you work your core and shoulder strength.  
  6. Inhale Upward Facing Dog. Go as high as your spine allows you to. You don't have to fully straighten your arms. 
  7. Exhale Downward Facing Dog (Stay for 5 breaths). Now here you can keep your knees bent as much as you need to. Its better to have bent knees and straight back than straight knees and rounded back. Reach your armpits towards the mat and your tailbone towards the sky. With each exhale try to straighten your knees a little bit more and lower your heels as much as you can. 
  8. Look forward, bend your knees and walk back to your hands, inhale lengthen your spine look up.
  9. Exhale fold forward.
  10. Inhale come all the way up with your arms straight above your head, palms together.
  11. Exhale back to Tadasana.