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From muscle cramps and sprains to soreness and serious injuries like ligament tears, workouts can leave you in a lot of pain if performed wrong.
“Diving directly into your work out by skipping the warm-up and stretches can negatively impact your heart and your muscles,” warns lifestyle and fitness coach, Grandmaster Akshar.
Performing these six yoga poses recommended by Akshar before your workout can stretch and strengthen your muscles which will prevent an injury when you work out:
1. Hastauttanasana or raised arms pose
Stand up straight at the corner of your mat with your feet parallel to each other. Inhale while stretching your arms upwards towards the ceiling with your palms facing each other and fingers pointing upwards. At this point, your back must be devoid of any hunch and you should be looking straight ahead. Now, gently move your back and neck backward. Hold on for a few seconds. Slowly come back to the standing position. Repeating this a couple of times can act as an ideal stretch for the back, arms, and chest which can prevent an injury in these areas.
2. Utkatasana or chair pose
The utkat asana can strengthen your thigh muscles and the knees while proving to be a good stretch for your arms and spine. All you need to do is to stand just like you stood at the beginning of the hasta uttan asana with your arms stretched upwards. Then, gently bend your knees and pelvis outwards so that your thighs become parallel to the mat, forming a 90-degree angle with your knees. Stay in this position for a couple of seconds and stand back up. Do 5 to 10 repetitions of this asana and you’re sorted.
3. Samakonasana or straight-angle pose
Again, take the position you took at the beginning of the hastauttansana. Now, exhaling slowly, bring your arms forward. Stretch your pelvis and hip backward, bending forward so that your spine becomes parallel to the mat. Stretch your neck and look forward with your face between your arms. You will feel a gentle stretch on your back and arms. This means you’re going in the right direction, folks.
4. Vajrasana or diamond pose
Get down on your knees to begin with this asana. Slowly lower down your hip to bring it in contact with your heels and your thigh in contact with your calves, holding your heels and toes as closely as possible. Rest your hands on your thighs and practice slow, deep breathing while feeling the stretch on your calves, ankles, and hamstrings. Additionally, this pose boosts blood circulation, which is great for warming up the body and thus, lowering the risk of an injury during a workout.
5. Paschimottanasana or seated forward bend
Sit at the end of your mat with your legs stretched forward. Extend your arms up towards the ceiling, exhale and bend your upper body forward in order to hold your toes with your fingers. Try taking this stretch a notch up by trying to tuck your nose between your knees and placing your chest over your thighs. This is a great stretch for your entire body, especially your hamstring.
6. Chakrasana or upward-facing bow pose
Begin by lying down on your back. Bend your legs at your knees and place your feet flat on your mat, close to your pelvis. Extend both your arms up and arch them back behind your head. Place your palms flat on the floor, beside your ears and with your fingers pointing towards your feet, balance your body weight and lift your pelvis and back off the floor. At this point, your body must form an arch with your navel reaching out upward. This asana is amazing for developing full-body strength and stretching the spine.
Make sure you start with a good warm-up to your workout! There’s nothing better than these yoga stretches to avoid injury.