As winter approaches and the tem­per­a­ture drops, warming up before yoga class, jog­ging or other forms of exer­cise becomes more cru­cial. A common mis­con­cep­tion is that warm up and stretching are the same thing. They’re not! Warming up means increasing your heart rate and tissue tem­per­a­ture through large move­ments of your mus­cles. Heed this advice from Shaw Bronner PT, PhD, OCS, an asso­ciate pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston who also directs the Analysis of Dance And Move­ment (ADAM) Center, and phys­ical therapy ser­vices at Alvin Ailey in New York City.

To start things off, try a light jog around the yoga studio or in place for 50 paces. Then get more specific. The most neglected areas to warm up are the back and hips. Try the following:

For the hips: While standing, per­form 20 leg swings for­ward and back (with a bent knee), and 20 legs swings in and out. Hold onto the back of a chair or railing while you per­form the movements.

For the hips and knees: Try a series of 10 large for­ward lunges. Make sure your align­ment is cor­rect, with your front knee in line with your middle toe.

For the lower back: Lie on your stomach and per­form 10 yoga cobra move­ments, pushing your upper body up using your arms.

For the ankles and calves: Stand in par­allel and per­form small ankle and knee bends, fol­lowed by rising on your toes. Repeat 10 times.

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