On the surface, yoga and martial arts appear to be complete opposites. You’d be surprised that once you have a closer look, martial arts and yoga actually have more in common than most of us realize!
For starters, the fundamentals of both practices are awareness, consciousness, and mindfulness, both on the mat, and in life. Those who practice it often view martial arts as more than just a sport or a self-defense practice – it is a philosophy, an art, and a lifestyle. Similar to yoga, it focuses on movements and being present with awareness, embodiment, and precision. Hence, it is no surprise that various poses and asanas found in yoga can improve the execution of techniques that are constantly used in many martial arts styles. When combined, yoga and martial arts effortlessly act as a yin and yang, balancing each other to form a lethal combination.
Without further ado, here are five great reasons why we believe yoga will perfectly complement your martial arts practice:
It increases endurance
With regular yoga practice, your endurance or stamina will inevitably develop along the way. If you’re looking to improve your overall body strength, holding different asanas or yoga poses for long periods will serve you greatly by increasing your stamina and mental toughness. As a bonus, the breathing and meditation techniques one learns through yoga may also help to clear the mind more efficiently and increase focus.
As you may already know, the focus is one of the essential aspects of practicing martial arts. With regular yoga practice, you may gain that clarity, and zen focus samurais and ninjas are known. If you happen to spend a lot of time hunching over with your shoulders in and chest down during practice, Wanderlust.com recommends for you to try the Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This posture will allow you to open up your chest, and not only will it help to counter some of your habits from training, but it will also naturally give you more space to breathe. In short, more oxygen circulating in your body = more power.
It develops and improves flexibility.
In general, increased flexibility is often perceived to be one of the main benefits of yoga, and it certainly comes in handy in martial arts practice. Flexibility is highly required for crucial moves such as high kicks and submissions. Having increased flexibility will also help in preventing risks of injuries during fights.
Are we currently feeling stiff as a board? To start, we recommend trying the Dhanurasana or bow pose that will give you a full backward bend to the entire length of the spine, building strength and flexibility in the back. This posture stretches the neck, shoulder, arms, and legs and expands the Thorac region of the chest. You can try these 12 yoga poses suitable for those who are not so flexible.
It improves balance
Based on the appearance of yoga poses, even those unfamiliar with yoga would gather that aside from flexibility, it is also an effective way to improve balance. Yoga can help to strengthen our balance through the increased awareness of our mind and bodies – as they are closely related. Though yoga does require physical strength and flexibility, it also demands that it also requires us to be aware of our mind and energy. As our mind and body become more aligned, the easier we would achieve balance.
To strengthen balance, one should emphasize their practice on one specific pose instead and opt for a mix of poses that encourage the synchronization of the mind and body, such as the tree pose, the eagle pose, the mountain, and the triangle pose.
It boosts your core strength.
Core muscles are responsible for solid punches and kicks. Though yoga is considered a low-impact exercise, it has been proven effective in developing and sharpening muscle strength. According to Yoga Journal, this type of strength can be created by holding yoga poses such as the Dolphin Planks or the Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog for extended periods. When you utilize your core muscles more often, you will likely experience a massive increase in power that is especially beneficial for martial arts practices – especially those that require the use of powerful kicks. It also doesn’t hurt that you’ll also be able to get those beautifully toned abs you’ve always dreamt of!
It enables speedy recovery.
Martial artists are prone to injuries, and we all know it is a big bummer to be forced to sit on the sidelines and not practice when you are in the process of recovery. The great news is that yoga prevents injuries and helps to accelerate to heal them! Should you sustain minor damage during a fight, such as a hamstring injury, why not grab a towel and try doing the Supine Split pose? This hamstring stretch can help you reduce your recovery time, and it’ll save you from the agony of suffering from numerous aches and pains after those sparring sessions!
It’s essential to keep in mind that we don’t have to wait until the new year to change. There is no better time to create a list of resolutions and goals than now. If you want to improve your martial arts practice, we recommend you learn how to incorporate yoga into your routine!
By Klara Kristi