How many times does the staff email blast urge you to “talk up other classes on the schedule?” It’s a good idea, but by the time you get to the studio, cue the music and lead people through your own class, either you forget to mention the vinyasa yoga class or participants leave before the cool-down, which is when you usually share announcements. Why not use the warm-up instead?

This dynamic, yoga-inspired warm-up works for a step, dance, boot camp or strength circuit class and serves many purposes:

  • It teaches participants how to connect breath with movement; this encourages them to be present in their bodies, which aids proprioceptive awareness.
  • It efficiently warms up the entire body.
  • It prepares the spine to move in all directions.
  • It presents an opportunity to promote yoga and other mind-body classes on the schedule.
  • It safely introduces beginners to a different format.

Keep participants moving and don’t hold the poses. Mention that this is a “taste of yoga” and that if people like it, they can speak to you about mind-body options at your facility.

Basic Forward Fold

Stand with feet a little less than hip width apart, knees slightly bent, toes pointing forward. Inhale: sweep arms overhead and pause. Exhale: fall forward, arms outstretched to sides. Knees can stay bent. Inhale: sweep arms out and up, coming back to standing. Repeat 6x. On final two upward sweeps, cue participants to feel an opening in their chests. This move also helps prepare the back line of the body.

Alternating High-Lunge Crescent With Lateral Dip

From neutral standing position, inhale: lift arms overhead. Exhale: step right (R) foot back into high lunge, heel lifted. Sweep arms overhead and to left (L). Inhale: come back to center, returning to neutral standing position. Exhale: step L foot back and sweep arms to R; repeat sequence 6x total. Cue participants to be aware of, but not force, the gentle stretch in the quadriceps, hip flexors and latissimus dorsi.

Dancing Sun Goddess

Step out into wide plié position, toes pointed slightly out. Inhale: take arms up. Exhale: bend knees and elbows, taking arms out to shoulder height, palms open to sky as if holding up an imaginary object. Inhale: straighten legs and arms back to start position, this time grasping hands in “steeple” position, index fingers pointing up. Exhale: bend knees and take arms out in front of body, fingers pointing forward. Repeat sequence, alternating between two arm positions, 6x.

Using the breath, come back to arms-open position and gently sway side to side, using legs to create strong foundation. Inhale: release. Exhale: fall forward, bringing hands to thighs. Inhale again, and exhale: bring R shoulder toward L knee while keeping hand on thigh; gently twist while eyes gaze past L shoulder. Repeat on L side. Alternate 10x.

Cat Plank

Transition to beginning push-up position (plank) on floor, hands beneath shoulders, legs active, navel pulled toward spine. From strong, aligned plank position, inhale, and then exhale: bring R knee across midline toward L shoulder, rounding spine like a cat. Repeat 6x. Release pose for a second to regroup, and repeat on L side, 6x. Modify by coming down onto forearms.

Joy Keller

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.

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