Adding a short yoga warm up to your water sport of choice can not only help your body move better and prevent injury, it can also help your mind. This 10-minute yoga warm up will prepare your body for the water and help to focus and clear your mind.
Find a comfortable seated position; relax your shoulders, and begin to focus on your breath. Closing your eyes may help you to relax. Take a deep inhale through your nose, filling up your lungs as much as you can, and a slow exhale through your nose. Be sure to let out every last bit of air. As you repeat this deep breathing, try to take in more air each time. Let go of any thoughts that may come into your mind and try to focus on the rhythm of your breath, your ribs expanding and contracting and your chest rising and falling. Try to do this for about two minutes.
On an inhale, lift one arm out and reach up towards the sky. As you exhale, leave your arm up but slowly lean your body away from your arm. Take another deep inhale and reach a little higher; and exhale, gently lower your arm back down to your side to come back up to a regular seat. Do this slowly on each side twice.
Take a deep inhale and raise both arms up towards the sky. As you exhale, gently twist over to your right and let your arms float down, placing your right fingertips on the ground behind you and left fingertips on the ground in front of you. Look over your right shoulder. Inhale and reverse the twist back to the front, arms raising overhead. Exhale, hands come through heart center and relax your shoulders. Repeat this on the left. Take one more deep inhale reach both arms up, exhale all of your air out and let your hands come down to your sides.
Back Stretching, cat/cow
Come to an all-fours position with your knees directly under your hips and your palms flat on the ground, directly under your shoulders. Take a deep inhale, look up and grow your chest up, opening up through your collarbone and dropping your belly. On your exhale, round your back through your shoulders and tuck your chin into your chest. Flow with your breath, repeating this for about 5 full breaths. Try to feel your back stretching from your tailbone all the way to the tip of your head. Make this a full body stretch, adding any slight movements that feel good to you.
From hands and knees, raise onto your toes and lift your hips as high as you can and start to straighten out your legs to come into down dog. Adjust however you need to in order to feel comfortable. In this inverted V shape, have your hands flat with your fingers spread wide. Lift your hips up to the sky but reach your heals for the floor. If you would like to stretch your calves more try to lift up your toes. Take a few deep breaths here. You can alternate bending your legs or lifting your heels and lowering them back down.
On an inhale, shift your body forward and come into a plank position, with your shoulders right over your wrists. As you exhale, slowly lower down, keeping your elbows in toward your sides.
Either lower all the way to your belly or hover a few inches off of the ground. Inhale, push into your hands, lift your gaze and chest , You can do either upward facing dog here or cobra. For upward-facing dog, only the tops of your feet and palms are on the ground. For cobra, lower your hips and legs to the ground, maintaining the expansion you created in your chest. Either way, relax your shoulders down your back and have the tops of your feet on the ground. As you exhale push your hips up and back and return into downward facing dog.
On an inhale step each foot forward one-by-one in between your hands to come into a forward fold. Exhale as you relax into the fold. Feel free to walk your feet out and get comfortable. Let go of the tension in your neck and your shoulders by dropping your head down and allowing your upper body to be heavy.
Inhale to lift half way up with a flat back, reaching the top of your head forward away from your hips. As you exhale, relax back into forward fold. Inhale, sweep your arms overhead and come up to standing. Exhale, relax your hands down to your sides
Take a big inhale and lift your arms out over head. As you exhale lead with your chest, push your hips back, and swan dive into forward fold. Place your weight in your hands and step back one foot at a time into downward facing dog.
Repeat this flow two more times, or until you feel loosened up and comfortable. When you come back to standing on your last set, take three final big breaths, stretching your arms overhead as you inhale and bringing palms together through your heart center as you exhale.
Take a moment to pause and notice how your body and mind feel. You are now ready to get out on the water!