The first part of any exercise routine should be a warm-up to stretch and raise the core temperature of your muscles. If you pull a cold elastic band too hard it snaps, but once it is warm it will stretch further. The same applies to your muscles. The warm-up prepares you psychologically for activity, getting you in the mood. It also increases the efficiency of the neuromuscular pathways, speeding up the signals sent from the brain to your muscles. Keep your movements gentle during the warm-up: do not overstretch. And work with a friend to make sure you’re not doing your body more harm than good.
Sit upright, spine in neutral. Lengthen up through the spine. Place feet flat on the floor and hands below knees. Keep elbows bent and chest open. Inhale as you tilt the pelvis and curve the spine into a C-shape to roll back, tucking in chin and keeping thighs close to chest. As you exhale, use abdominals to pull you back up to the starting position.
Hold arms in front of you, level with your shoulders. Elbows should be bent, arms rounded. Let your shoulder blades glide down your spine and feel the crown of your head “float” up towards the ceiling. Inhale and tilt your pelvis to begin the downward roll. Feel the support of the abdominals throughout. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
Sit on the floor with one leg in front of the other. Inhale as you prepare. Exhale as you raise one arm and lengthen up through the spine, then stretch into one side from a strong centre, taking care not to collapse into the stretch. Pull the navel to the spine and keep your buttocks on the floor.
With legs apart and feet flexed, let your chin gently drop to your chest. Roll down bone by bone through your spine. As you do, gently reach forwards with your hands. Keep your abdominals hollowed. Exhale as you lower. Bend knees slightly if this is uncomfortable. As you roll back up, create length between the vertebrae.