The Best Yoga Warm-up for Athletes

Sun Salutation C is the best yoga warm-up for athletes (in my opinion)

As a contemporary yoga teacher, there’s always tension between sticking with tradition and updating the practice to accommodate advances in science.

For traditional yoga poses and sequences, there’s usually something not quite tangible about why I like or do them, but it just seems to feel right (even if it may be way off from an physiological standpoint). And, to be honest, sometimes the most “scientifically accurate” way of doing yoga is painfully boring.

Just the other day I saw a social media post from an anatomically-driven yoga teacher and they were doing pushups with their knees on the ground and hands on a stability ball. Wow, this was very boring to watch. Sure, this is a good move for people with tight wrists, or shoulders, or some other condition, but some of us just want to use our bodies and not worry so much about putting bubble wrap on every part of our body during the process.

This is especially endemic in the world of yoga for athletes. For some reason, yoga teachers think that athletes use their bodies so much in their sport that they can’t be challenged at all on the yoga mat. Sure, a purely traditional (say “ashtanga”) yoga practice is probably not the best call for most athletes. But, there has to be a middle ground where athletes can face some adversity on the yoga mat and, yes, maybe tweak something here and there.

Following that comment, let me reassure you, I have no interest in hurting people

Which is why I’m interested in helping athletes find the most beneficial edge for their bodies in yoga. With an intelligent and patient approach, we can use traditional yoga technique while minimizing risk (and actually have fun the process!).

If you’ve ever seen or read “War of the Worlds” you know that no matter how powerful you are, you need to expose yourself to some adversity (in the case of the Aliens in the movie/book, bacteria) to stay alive. And this is the thinking I applied in developing my opinion for the best yoga warm-up for athletes.

Why I chose Sun Salutation C as the best yoga warm-up for athletes

I chose Sun Salutation C because it’s “traditional” (i.e. every yoga teacher knows what it is) and also physiologically sound (i.e. it’s helps warm up the body with minimal physical risk), but not overly so on either side of the spectrum.

I also like this sequence because most teachers know it but, for some reason, don’t teach it very much. We see a lot of Sun A and Sun B in the yoga world, but Sun C gets kicked to the curb even though it warms up the most important body parts used by athletes: the hip flexors, spine, back, hamstrings, and core.

In this tutorial, I provide a full overview of the sequence of Sun C and its benefits as well as a “real-time” demonstration and review of how to do the sequence in a continuous flow (feel free to repeat this part to get a nice warm-up out of the deal).

There’s probably someone out there that is going to disagree with my stance on how we should treat athletes in yoga, and yoga in general. That ok and I invite the discussion.

Enjoy the warm-up and, more importantly, the approach to it that beings tradition and science into balance.

Start using yoga to live athletically:

Yoga for Athletes - The Ultimate Guide

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About the Author:

Joe is the Founder of Icewater Yoga. Fascinated by the intersection of yoga and sport, his goal is to help athletes develop a consistent yoga practice. He lives in Claremont, CA with his wife, Jill.