By Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT 500

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN YOGA-INSPIRED WARM-UP-Jessica Matthews-American-Fitness-Couture-Printed Capri Leggings

It’s no secret that it’s important to warm-up before tackling any type of workout, as a well-rounded warm-up routine can help to address underlying muscle imbalances and enhance overall movement quality during your sweat session, while also gradually increasing core body temperature in preparation for the activity to come. Although there are a number of different ways to approach warming up, in honor of September being National Yoga Month this post offers a blueprint for developing your own yoga-inspired dynamic warm-up to prepare you for any type of exercise.

Focus on mobility

To allow for a more efficient and effective workout that helps to decrease the risk of injury, ensuring adequate joint mobility is a must. The body itself is comprised of a series of joints, in which certain areas tend to favor joint stability (the ability to maintain or control joint movement) while others tend to favor joint mobility (uninhibited range of motion around a joint). The specific joints, which favor mobility include the ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulders. As such specific movements which focus on enhancing range of motion particularly in these four areas, should be including as part of a well-structured dynamic warm-up.

Explore yoga-based movements

While it’s important to choose specific movements and exercises that best serve your unique needs and personal health and wellness goals, the following yoga poses are examples of options which can easily be incorporated into a dynamic warm-up routine to enhance joint mobility in the four key areas of the body discussed above-

Cat-Cow: Assume a hands and knees position with wrists below shoulders and knees below hips. Inhale, softening belly toward floor, gently arching the back while tilting tailbone and chin toward ceiling and gazing upward with the eyes. Exhale, gently round spine drawing chin toward chest, lightly compressing the throat. Continue this cycle of movements for a total of 5 cycles of breath.

Crescent Lunge Variation: From table top position, step right foot forward between hands, rising into a half kneeling position with right foot forward and left knee on the floor, arms extended alongside the body. Inhale, sweep arms overhead, aligning wrists, shoulders and hips in one straight line. Exhale, connect palms and release hands to heart center while simultaneously shifting weight forward, deepening the stretch in the left hip. Continue this cycle of movements for a total of 3-5 cycles of breath before switching sides and repeating. Half

Lord of the Fishes: Begin in a seated position with legs outstretched in front of body. Step right foot overtop left thigh, planting right foot on mat with knee bent. Gently place right hand behind right hip with fingers pointed away from body. Inhale, extending left arm toward ceiling while lengthening the spine. Exhale, gently rotate torso to the right, hooking left elbow outside of right knee. Each inhalation continue to explore length in the spine, while deepening the rotation with each exhalation for a total for 3-5 cycles of breath before switching to the other side and repeating.

Wind Removing Pose Variation: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Extend the left leg fully along the mat and guide right knee in toward chest, interlacing fingers just below the right knee on the shin. Inhale, guiding right knee up toward right armpit just outside the chest. Holding this position, exhale and begin to create circles with the ankle, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Continue to breathe freely in this pose for 3-5 cycles of breath before repeating on the opposite side.

If you prefer to take the guesswork out of designing your own warm-up routine, try following along with this complete 6-minute yoga-inspired dynamic warm-up, led by yours truly!

We’re so excited to have Jessica onboard as our official health and wellness blogger and cherished Lead Ambassador. Jessica Matthews, MS is assistant professor of health and exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego, Calif. and senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). A certified health coach, personal trainer, group fitness instructor and yoga teacher, Jessica is committed to inspiring people to live happier, healthier, fitter lives.; @fitexpertjess