Warm-Up Exercises and Stretches

Warm-Up Exercises

Please note: We have an illustrated version of Warm Up Exercises created by members of our sangha. If you would like a copy, please ask the practice leader or the jitsu any time you are at the zendo.

It's a good idea to loosen up before sitting (or during breaks in longer sitting) whenever possible. The following sequence of poses will take about 15 min. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

One: Begin in a standing position, feet about hip-distance apart. Take a nice, slow inhale, and as you exhale, slowly roll your upper body down toward the floor, starting with the top of your head. You can keep your knees bent, and only go as far as you comfortably can. Take hold of opposite elbows with your hands, and let your head dangle freely. Stay with a few breaths, and when you're ready, release your elbows and slowly roll back up with your inhale, letting your head come up last.

Two: You can also do this forward bend with the support of a chair. Roll down slowly until your arms rest on the chair seat. Breathe a few breaths, and when you're ready, roll slowly back up on the inhale.

Three: You'll need a little bit of wall space for this. Sit on the floor, and with either your right or left side in contact with the wall, scoot your seat as close to the wall as you can. Bring your legs up the wall and let your upper body rest on the floor. Stay here and breathe for a few minutes.

More Stretches

Begin in your usual zazen posture. It need not be cross-legged. You can do these seated poses while sitting on a seiza bench or chair.

One: Cross your hands behind your head and with your elbows out, and as you take a nice slow inhale, arch your back a little and look up toward the ceiling.

Two: As you exhale, round over. You can repeat steps one and two a few times, matching the movements to the breath.

Three: As you inhale, bring your arms straight up and alongside your ears.

Four: As you exhale, take an easy twist to your right. You can place your left hand on your right knee, and your right hand behind you to help keep you upright.

Five: As you inhale, return to facing front with your arms alongside your ears. As you exhale, take an easy twist to the left.

Six: As you inhale, return to facing front, bring your arms back up alongside your ears, as you exhale, take a gentle side bend to the right. Inhale to come upright, then as your exhale, take a gentle side bend to the left.