It seems to me that there is much confusion about this seemingly simple question in the modern yoga industry. One highly respected yoga teacher even Periscopes her strength and flexibility drills as she warms-up before practicing daily at the world-renowned Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India.
But I question this. Should you warm-up for yoga, or is yoga the warm-up for something else?
If yoga is defined as a physical performance, one in which you are evaluated and the success of your practice is objectively determined by the depth of your postures, then perhaps yes, warming up might be a good idea.
But if yoga is defined by the relaxed state of awareness you bring to the positions rather than the perfect state of body, then perhaps warming-up doesn’t really matter after all.
What if your yoga practice is actually the warm-up for the whole rest of your day?
If so, then maybe the best time to practice your yoga is when you find it most challenging. Think about it, do you have a moment to warm-up before you have a traffic accident? Do you get 5-10 minutes to slowly prepare yourself before your son/daughter/spouse/boss comes running up to you with the latest life or death emergency?
Your practice is the perfect opportunity for you to warm-up your coping skills for the inevitable stressors that plague each and every one of us, every day of our lives.
That’s what yoga is for. As you reach into the edges of your physical ability you are asked to approach these challenges as a forum for which you can practice the very same skills you use in daily life.
It makes no sense to warm-up FOR the warm-up!
And I think if you find yourself tempted to practice BEFORE you practice, you might want to search a bit deeper into your understanding of why you practice in the first place.