Warming up before your yoga practice is essential for a beneficial workout and to avoid injury. Wake up every muscle group with this full-body yoga warm up, featuring the best exercises and poses to gently prepare your body for your practice…

Fancy doing a spot of yoga? Before launching straight into a workout, it’s important to warm up your muscles first – especially as many yoga involve stretches designed to improve flexibility. After all, muscles are a little like chewing gum: they need to be warmed up before they can be stretched. If you exercise while they are still cold and stiff, they will be more susceptible to injury.

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If you’re looking for a simple and gentle full-body yoga warm up, which is suitable for beginners, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ve rounded up the best exercises and poses, designed to gently get your muscles and joints prepared for your yoga practice.

After completing the following moves, we also recommend doing a few rounds of sun salutation, to further warm up and prepare your body for your main practice. Click here for a basic sun salutation A sequence, perfect for yoga beginners.

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Full body yoga warm up

  1. Cross-legged side bend
  2. Cross-legged easy forward bend
  3. Head rolls
  4. Cat cow
  5. Elbow circles
  6. Cross-legged wrist rolls
  7. Spine roll

Keep reading for full instructions.

full body yoga warm up

Cross-legged side bend

  • Sit cross-legged, arms resting on the floor beside you.
  • Inhale, lift your left arm up over your head, leaning your torso to the right.
  • Bend the right arm so your elbow rests on the floor and the arm slides further away. Keep your torso and head facing forward so you feel a deep stretch in your side.
  • When you’ve reached as far as you can go comfortably, take five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
full body yoga warm up

Cross-legged easy forward bend

  • Sit cross-legged.
  • Inhale and place your palms on the floor, walking them forward until you feel a stretch in your bottom and backs of thighs.
  • Lean your torso forward, pivoting from the hips. Take six breaths.
  • On each inhale lift your torso and on each exhale walk your hands a little further in front of you.
full body yoga warm up

Head rolls

  • Bring your right ear close to your right shoulder without moving your shoulder.
  • Exhale, then draw your chin down to your chest and move your left ear close to the left shoulder, keeping the shoulder still.
  • Bring your head back to the start position. Do five circles in each direction.
full body yoga warm up

Cat cow

  • Start on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips.
  • Inhale and gently move your tailbone towards the ceiling, concaving your back, keeping the abdominal muscles engaged and drawing your shoulders back and down.
  • Look up gently but keep your neck long, don’t throw your head back.
  • Exhale and tuck your tailbone under so your pelvis rotates inwards toward your chest, round your back, pointing your mid-spine to the ceiling, then look down towards your belly. This is one; do five cat cows.
full body yoga warm up

Elbow circles

  • Sit cross-legged and bring your hands gently to your shoulders.
  • Now imagine you’re drawing large circles with your elbows, out in front of you in a clockwise direction.
  • Keep your torso still and relaxed. Do five circles in each direction.

Cross-legged wrist rolls

  • Sit cross-legged, arms outstretched making two fists.
  • Breathing evenly, rotate your wrists clockwise.
  • Do five rotations and then repeat anti-clockwise.
full body yoga warm up

Spine roll

  • Lie flat on your back, knees bent to your chest. Hold the back of your thighs.
  • Keeping your chin close to your chest and abdominals engaged, roll forward and back in a rocking motion, keeping your chest and head lifted as you come up so you feel a massage through the spine.
  • Do five to 10 rolls.

Related content:

  1. What is yoga? Benefits & basics for beginners
  2. Power yoga workout: stretch, strengthen & burn calories [VIDEO]
  3. Yoga for PMS: best poses to reduce symptoms