The Best 10 Yoga-Inspired WarmUps for Public Speaking

Warm-up exercises for public speaking are absolutely vital if you want to nail that next presentation, speech,  interview, sales pitch, or tough conversation with your loved ones.

Public speaking is something we all have to do at some point in our lives. Whether it’s part of our education, career, or even home life, it is unavoidable. Yet, it is also terrifying.

For many of us, the fear of public speaking can hold us back from trying out for new job opportunities, progressing in our relationships, or adding to our educational achievements.

Some of the most successful public speakers ease this fear by using a number of different tools. One of those tools is a reliable set of warm-up exercises before the event.

This post delves into 10 yoga-inspired public speaking warm-up exercises that you can practice in the privacy of your own home in the lead-up to the event, and directly before it. Read on to discover beginner-friendly physical, mental, and vocal warm-ups.

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TL; DR: 

1. An ideal yoga-inspired warm-up session before a public speaking event will include three main components: movement (asana), breathwork (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana).

2. These components prepare the body for deeper breaths, work to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, and aid in honing focus and concentration respectively.

3. Yoga poses that focus on side bends, back bends, and some forward bends work to increase lung capacity and strength. Breathwork like Lion’s Breath and Humming Bee Breath focuses on developing breath awareness, breath control, and elongated exhales to bring us out of a state of anxiety both physically and mentally and help to warm up vocal cords. Meditation practices like a full-body scan or breath-focused meditation help to clear the mind of distractions both internal and external.

4. Bonus components to a yoga-inspired warm-up session will include more conventional methods such as practicing tongue twisters and doing lip and face warm-ups.

The benefits of warming up

One thing I notice with a lot of my students at work is that very few of them actually do any warming up before a presentation. Instead, they focus intently on their scripts trying to memorize one last time before I call them up to the front of the class.

Warming up is essential to delivering a good speech or presentation. You prepare the brain and the body for what’s ahead in much the same way an athlete does before an event.

However, warming up is a little more nuanced and involved than simply running through the contents of your speech.

If you’re concerned about:

  • how to relax before a presentation
  • how to warm up your brain
  • how to warm up your voice
  • how to warm up your facial muscles (especially if you suffer from what I call “brain faster than mouth” syndrome)
  • how to give a speech without being nervous

then a well-rounded warm-up is essential.

Warming up sufficiently will, in my experience, contribute to making sure you are reducing the chance of stage fright and increasing the chance of appearing authoritative on your subject just as much as lots of practicing will.

Things you’ll need

All of the exercises listed below can be done at home as well as just before the event.

If you’re intending on setting up a regular practice at home, then you might want some of the items listed below at hand. However, before you reach for your wallet, know that many items you likely already have around the house.

1. A yoga mat OR a 2m x 3m area of clear floor space, preferably a hard surface or low-pile carpet.

2. Two yoga blocks OR a couple of robust sturdy books or brick-shaped objects that have some resistance.

3. A yoga strap OR a long scarf or belt or towel.

4. A yoga blanket OR a large towel or bed throw.

5. A yoga bolster OR a large pillow or the same items from #4.

We may not use all these items, it really depends on what makes you feel more comfortable and steady in the practice.

The ideal warm-up session

The following 10 yoga-inspired warm-up exercises for public speaking could, if done in order, make up one well-rounded session.

If you practice this at home regularly, then you’ll always have it in your back pocket for those moments just before an event.

In that circumstance, you can pick and choose what would best suit the situation. It may not always be appropriate to start practicing Asana if you’re in a lobby waiting for your interview. However, if you have ten minutes to pop to the loo to try a few seated asanas, then the benefits would be the same.

When you are considering what to cherry-pick for before your public speaking event, I’d recommend sticking with the yoga tradition which stipulates asana first, then breathwork, then meditation.

Asanas prepare the body for breathwork, and breathwork prepares the body for meditation.

The following three sections will look at three seated and three standing poses, two breathwork techniques, and two meditation practices. For each component, we will examine what to do and why it helps improve your public speaking presence.

All practices listed are suitable for yoga beginners.

6 Yoga-inspired warm-up exercises for the body

(For each of the poses below, the title links to Tummee – a FREE yoga website for teachers and practitioners alike that has information on thousands of yoga poses and more. Click each link to see a picture of how the pose might look for you, as well as some modifications).

The following three poses can all be practiced on a chair (or the loo) and are therefore appropriate for those moments just before your public speaking event.

Be sure to practice the side bends and cat-cows before the twists, so that your spine has had a chance to warm up

Seated side bends are great to help develop your public speaking presence.

60-70% of our lungs are along the side and back of our body, so creating space in these areas allows for our lungs to increase in capacity and strength.

Why do we need bigger, stronger lungs? Because this allows us to take deeper breaths, which switches on our parasympathetic nervous system. This is our rest-and-digest state and is what’s responsible for keeping us calm, grounded, and relaxed – exactly the conditions you want for your speech or presentation.

How to do seated side bends

1. In your chair, place your feet under your knees, your knees hips distance apart, and your head and shoulders directly over the hips with a natural curve in the spine. Keep both sit bones pressing gently down into the chair and relax both arms down to your sides.

2. On your next inhale through the nose, lift your right arm up so that your fingertips reach up to the ceiling. Your right sit bone still gently grounds down into the chair.

3. As you exhale through the nose, keep the sit bones where they are (don’t let them lift) and bend over to the left. Keep your torso parallel with the back of the chair (not rounding down to face the floor). Your right fingertips are now reaching diagonally up to the left.

4. Feel the stretch along the right side body. Your right arm never has to be straight, bent elbows are fine. When you’re ready, inhale up, and exhale the arm down.

5. Repeat on the left side.

PRO TIP: Focus on only moving the upper body, keeping the lower body “stuck” in position. That way, when you are in the side bend, you can notice the expansion in the side of the chest as you breathe in. If it helps, put a block between your thighs to remind your lower body to stay still. 

Seated cat-cow is a great way to warm up the spine, stretch the muscles across the top of the back, and open up the top of the chest.

All this also contributes to creating greater space for the lungs.

How to do seated cat-cow

1. Assume the same seated position in your chair as you did for seated side bends. This time, Reach your arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor.

2. Inhale here, then as you exhale through the nose, round the back and reach your arms forwards.

3. As you inhale through the nose, arch the back, and bring your arms down and back behind you, interlacing the fingers if that’s available to you. If not, try holding onto a strap or belt with both hands to help open up the chest.

4. Repeat two or three times, following the pace of your breath.

PRO TIP: As you reach the arms back, keep the belly engaged and draw the ribs gently in. It sounds counterintuitive, I know, but it helps to really focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together without compromising the lower back. 

Twists are a  great way to keep the spine healthy while also creating strength and space in the chest.

They’re fantastic if you spend a long time sitting at a desk or computer.

How to do seated twists

1. Return back to the same neutral seated position. Then shift forwards so you’re on the edge of your seat, almost.

2. Reach both arms up on the inhale.

3. As you exhale, Bring your left arm to the outside of the right knee, and the right arm back behind you, so that your fingertips are resting on the seat behind your right hip.

4. Inhale to lift the chest and lengthen the spine. Exhale to twist, using the strength of the belly muscles more than the arms. check that both hips and knees remain facing forward and are not twisting around to the right.

5. Stay here for a few breaths, then when you’re ready inhale to lift both arms up as you face forwards and exhale to bring both arms down to the side.

6. Repeat on the other side.

PRO TIP: the neck is also part of the spine, so as you twist, try to look over the shoulder of the back arm, but don’t force it. 

Moving on now to poses you can do without a chair, we will start with cat-cow.

Like seated cat-cow, this pose is great for warming up the spine, creating strength in the arms, legs, and core, and developing breath awareness.

How to do cat-cow

1. Come on to all fours, with your wrists below your shoulders, and knees below your hips. Gently pull in your belly, and endeavor to keep this engagement throughout the movement on this pose. You can choose whther to tuck or untuck your toes, but either way makle sure your feet are in lign with your knees and if the toes are untucked they point straight back behind you.

2. Inhale here, then as you exhale arch the back up toward the ceiling, reaching the tailbone gently down to the floor and tucking your chin into your chest.

3. As you exhale, keep the belly engaged as you gently lift the tailbone up to the ceiling, arch the lower back down, and reach the chest forward, lifting the chin up to the ceiling if that feels right for your neck.

4. Repeat for a few rounds, using the breath pace as the guide.

PRO TIP: Keep the shoulders in the same position throughout, so you don’t dump into the shoulders as you drop your back down. This requires continuous pushing into the mat. If your knees hurt, place a folded blanket or towel under them for extra padding.

Anjaneyasana (often translated as low lunge) is a fantastic pose.

It strengthens and stretches the hip flexors, strengthens the core, and creates space in the upper chest and back.

All this contributes to developing better posture as well as increasing lung capacity and lung strength. If we’re allowed favorites in Asana, this one is mine.

How to do Anajaneyasana

1.  From the same starting position as you were in for Cat-Cow, bring your right foot forward to the inside of the right hand. Tuck the toes of the left foot, lift the knee a little, and gently scoot the back leg back just a little so that when you lay the knee down again, you’re resting on the fleshier part of the upper knee and untuck the back foot.

2. Engage the core muscles to lift your hands onto your right knee and to lift the upper body upright.

3. Gently reach the tailbone down toward the back of the left knee, and gently pull in the belly.

4. Once stabilized, inhale to lift your arms up, reaching the fingertips to the ceiling. If it feels comfortable on your neck, lift your chin to look up. Otherwise, stay looking forwards. Keep drawing the ribs and belly in to protect the lower back.

5. After a few breaths here, release the arms down on the exhale to frame the front foot and return to the starting position.

6. Repeat with the left leg.

PRO TIP: Keep actively pushing down into both feet to help with balance and to help engage the core. 

Extended side angle is another favorite of mine because so much is going on in this pose you have little time to think of anything else.

As with side bends, it’s great for increasing lung strength and lung capacity, while also working on leg strength and flexibility which contributes to better posture.

How to do Extended Side Angle

1. From mountain pose, reach the left leg back behind you about the distance of one leg length. Rotate the back foot so that it is pointing toward the long edge of your mat. Keep the front foot facing the short edge of your mat.

2. Gently rotate the hips so that as best as possible they are facing the long edge of the mat. Keep your hip bones level.

3. Check your shoulders are over your hips so that you’re not leaning forward and that your tailbone is gently reaching downwards so that you’re not arching your lower back (in what I like to call “duck bum”).

4. Reach your arms out to the side at shoulder height. Look over to your right hand. Reach the arms away from each other while still keeping the shoulders over the hips.

5. Exhale and bend the front knee so that it comes roughly over the ankle.

6. Inhale here, then exhale and bend the front arm at the elbow, resting the elbow on the front thigh and pointing the hand towards the long edge of the mat, with the palm facing up. The back arm will likely be reaching up toward the ceiling.

7. Inhale here, then exhale to bring the top arm up and over so that it is in line with your left ear, palm facing down to the floor. Check that your chest is still facing the long side of the mat and not rotating down to the floor as this will constrict the breath.

8. Breathe, focusing on reaching the top arm up and grounding the back leg down on the inhale, then tucking the tailbone and re-engaging the belly on the exhale. It’s tougher than it looks.

9. Exhale, and engage the core to lift yourself up, straighten the front leg, and relax the arms. Switch the rotation of the feet so that your left foot is now pointing to the short edge of the mat, and your right foot to the long edge.

10. Repeat steps 2 to 10.

PRO TIP: To come out of the pose, rotate both feet so they are pointing to the long edge of the mat, bend the knees and heel-toe your feet in toward each other, then step to the top of the mat and resume Mountain pose.

2 Yoga-inspired breathing exercises to enhance your voice

One component of yoga, pranayama, is focused on utilizing breathwork to improve the condition of the mind and body.

Much of what the ancient yogis knew about the power of the breath is now backed up by modern science. If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor.

You can read more about the science of the breath here, but essentially both the methods described below work to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (helping you to feel more relaxed and grounded before your speech).

They both also utilize the voice, thereby being wonderful vocal warm-ups for public speaking.

Both titles below link to video instructions for each of these warm-ups.

Lion’s Breath is one of those techniques that you might want to do in private lest you scare off everyone at the event.

The forceful exhalation works to release pent-up frustration and tension. Therefore, it is perfect to do before you go on stage if you feel yourself getting angsty.

How to do Lion’s Breath

1. Come to a comfortable seated position but make sure not to slouch.

2. Breathe in deeply through the nose, then open your mouth wide and reach your tongue out and down the chin as far as you comfortably can.

3. Exhale loudly out the mouth, as if you’re roaring like a lion. If that feels too much, exhale forcefully without engaging the vocal cords.

4. Repeat a few times, then return to normal breathing.

PRO TIP: If it feels right for you, you can close your eyes, or keep them open. Traditionally, the eyes will be focused up toward the space between your eyebrows. 

Humming bee is another great choice to warm up the muscles of the vocal folds and tune up your voice ready for your presentation.

How to do Humming Bee Breath

1. Find a comfortable seated position, trying not to slouch or round the spine.

2. Cover your ears with your hands, or place your index fingers into the ears to close off the ear holes.

3. Inhale through the nose, and keeping the mouth closed, exhale while humming one long continuous sound.

4. Repeat a few more times, then relax your hands down into your lap and return to normal nasal breathing.

PRO TIP: For each exhale, try finding a different pitch for your hum so that you increase the range of the warmup. 

2 Calming Meditations for Public Speaking

One of the biggest complaints I get from my students is the frustration they feel after having practiced and prepared so diligently, only for it all to turn into white noise once they get on stage.

Instead, they focus on the frown of the person in the front row, the bored expressions of the people in the back, the occasional sigh from someone out of sight, and the missed spelling mistake on the next slide.

One way to combat this mental noise is through a few minutes of calming meditation.

Meditation has long been known to reduce stress, clear the mind, and enhance concentration. However, many of us feel frustrated at first and that we aren’t “good” at it.

This is down to the misconception that to be good at meditation means to be completely free of thoughts.

Quite the opposite.

Most of us will have intrusive and distracting thoughts in almost every meditation session. The trick is to notice that the mind has jumped from one thought to another, and to gently bring it back to a sense of quiet. that could happen ten times or 100 times in one session, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you notice. That is the mental muscle you’re building to increase your focus and concentration which will benefit you mid-presentation.

Both titles below link to an instructional video.

A breath-focused meditation is just that. A period of time where you train the mind to focus only on the breath.

This is much easier said than done, but over time it does get a little easier. The effects are subtle, but you will notice the difference before and after a public speaking event.

How to do a breath-focused meditation

1. Set a timer for a few minutes. If this is your first time, I’d recommend five minutes to start with.

2. Come to a comfortable seated position, being careful not to slouch.

3. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable for you. Otherwise, lower your gaze to your lap.

4. For a minute or so, just take a few deep breaths without trying to focus the mind. Let it do its thing.

5. Then, bring your awareness to your breath. When do you feel the breath as you inhale? Where on the exhale? Can you make the inhale a little deeper? Can you make the exhale a little longer? How are you feeling emotionally as you focus on the breath?

6. If you notice your mind has gotten bored and jumped to the next item on your to-do list, gently return your attention to the breath.

7. When the timer goes off, pause to stop it, then return to taking just a few quiet deep breaths.

PRO TIP: If you find yourself slouching, which almost all of us do, then stick a cushion between your back and the chair to help keep you upright. 

Sometimes we are unaware that we are holding tension in certain parts of our body. In order to switch on the rest-and-digest state it is necessary to release that tension.

Body scans are a great way of doing that.

How to do a body-scan meditation

1. Come to a comfortable seated position.

2. Moving from the top of the body all the way down to the bottom, focus your attention on each body part, and actively try to relax the associated muscles as you exhale.

3. Work your way slowly down your body, and then take note of how you feel physically and mentally as you reach your toes and the soles of your feet.

PRO TIP: Try to go into detail. For example, for a good jaw release, focus on the muscles around the lips, the hinges of the jaw, and relax the tongue, and the muscles of the chin. 

Speaking out loud

So there you have it. The ten best yoga-inspired warm-ups for public speaking.

Now you’re ready to move on to more conventional public speaking exercises. Below are a few to try, to ensure that you are fully prepped for your presentation.

Tongue Twisters

Try testing out the effects of Lion’s Breath and Humming Bee Breath on your voice with the following popular tongue twisters. These speech warm-up tongue twisters are a great way to further warm up the vocal chords, the lips, and the face.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

She sells sea shells on the seashore

Red lorry yellow lorry

Elisa James is another great resource for voice exercises for speaking clearly. In particular, she includes tongue twisters that target specific parts of the mouth. Scroll down to exercise #5 for some examples.

Facial warmups

At, they also purport the necessity of using the body, the breath, and the voice as essential components of speech exercises for public speaking.

Definitely check out their “rag doll flop & drop” exercise and their “Face scrunch” exercises.


1. How to warm up before public speaking? 

Warming up the body with a few stretches to open up the chest as well as a few shakes to ease tension is the first step. Meditating for a few minutes to focus the mind is a great addition to a warm-up routine. Tongue twisters, Lion’s Breath, and Humming Bee Breath all help to warm up the vocal cords, the lip muscles, and the facial muscles.

2. What are two basic vocal warm up tips?

1. Humming one long continuous sound is a great way to warm up the muscles of the vocal folds.

2. Practicing tongue twisters helps to warm up the voice as well as the muscles of the lips and face, helping you to articulate better the contents of your speech.

3. How can you relax before public speaking?

Taking deep breaths and focusing on extending the exhale will switch on the parasympathetic nervous system. This is your rest-and-digest state, where you feel calm, grounded, and relaxed.

Meditating for a few minutes before your speech can help to calm the fluctuations of the mind, as well as encourage it to stay focused on the task at hand.

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Three people are performing warm up exercises for public speaking. One man is practicing cat-cow pose in yoga, a woman is practicing humming bee breath, and another woman is meditating on a cushion.

Key Takeaways

Warming up before a public speaking event is almost as important as the event itself. this can be done with asanas that improve lung strength and lung capacity, breathwork that helps to calm the mind and warm up the vocal cords, and meditation to focus the mind on the task at hand.

In order for these techniques to have impact, you might need to repeat them frequently in the lead up to your event.

If you’re interested in learning more about beginners’ yoga as it applies to public speaking, feel free to follow me on Instagram for regular tidbits and advice.

Additionally, you are welcome to join my Beginners’ yoga Facebook group where I go live each week answering your questions about all things yoga and public speaking.

If you’re keen to get started with yoga at home, then click the button below to get my FREE home yoga prep guide for beginners.

Until next week, much love