5 Ways Yoga Can Benefit Martial Arts Training
Complimentary Arts with Ancient Roots
Practicing yoga can benefit martial arts training in many ways. That’s because both yoga and martial arts can be modes of self-healing that awaken energy, or prana/chi within the body, and increase awareness.
In both arts, practitioners learn how to foster deeper connections by finding union within the self. Whatever benefits one can miss in martial arts practice, can be gained in yoga and vice versa.
Did You Even Know?
The Vedic discipline of yoga is an ancient root of some martial arts styles still practiced today. It’s said to have extended into China through the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma around the 5th/6th century CE.
According to traditions, Bodhidharma founded both the disciplines of Shaolin kung fu and Zen or Ch’an Buddhism. It’s no wonder why yoga and martial arts have very similar stances and movements and share some very fundamental core philosophies.
Anyone striving to stay in competitive shape could benefit by pairing martial arts training with a solid personal yoga practice.
In martial arts, you learn to master your craft to win over your opponent… in yoga, you learn to master the biggest and only opponent – yourself.
The very nature of yoga itself helps one develop flexibility, focus, balance, proprioception, and core strength, along with breathwork and proper alignment.
So, if you’re trying to take your fighting or forms skills to the next level, you may just want to step onto the yoga mat as a regular part of your martial arts training too.
Here are 5 Ways Yoga Can Benefit Martial Arts Training
1. Yoga Teaches You Focused Breathing
- Yoga consistently emphasizes the importance of proper breathing during practice. The ‘pranayama’ or breathing exercises in yoga help to expand your lung capacity. This leads to more efficient breathing and helps to get more oxygen throughout the body when you need it most.
- Flowing sequences, like one called Sun Salutation, integrate mind and body by synchronizing focused breath with movement. As a martial artist, you also benefit from this body/mind synchronization during training or competitive events. Pranayama can be a great tool to calm the mind before a match as well.
2. It Greatly Improves Your Flexibility
- No matter which style you practice, good flexibility is essential to martial arts, and yoga helps you get incredibly flexible! Although some of the asanas look quite intimidating, there are many variations and props to help you get there. Yoga helps improve performance in the ring, in real-life scenarios, and in practice.
- The constant repeating of the same movements involved in martial arts training can leave your muscles tight and sore too. However, certain yoga postures are designed to stretch those same muscles and bring fluidity into your joints, allowing you to pack more power into your techniques and perform any kicks and submissions with more comfort and better execution.
3. Yoga Helps You Prevent Injuries
- Many forms of martial arts training can overwork certain muscles. For example, a martial artist may favor certain strikes or combos and over-develop muscles on either the left or right side of the body, becoming more vulnerable to injuries.
- Limited or improper stretching before/after training can also make you vulnerable to muscle tears and strains. Yoga can help with all of that.
- When you pair your martial arts training with yoga, you can increase your flexibility, strength, range of motion, and spatial awareness. This heightened awareness of the body and breath allows the competitor to have better form, the lack of which is another possible cause of many injuries.
4. It Reduces Recovery Time
- As a martial artist, you may also know that no matter how trained you are, accidents do happen inside and outside the dojo. You may already know how it feels to sit on the sidelines and not be able to practice or fight while you recover from an injury. Well, guess what?
- Along with improving flexibility and balance, and preventing injuries, yoga also promotes accelerated healing. A short yoga session after a martial arts class can encourage your muscles to relax, prompting your body to enter recovery mode easily, while meditation helps you direct healing energy where it will best serve you.
5. It Enhances Core Strength and Endurance
- When practicing yoga, you must hold different poses for extended periods of time. Holding a pose for an extended period and transitioning through them slowly forces you to use your core muscles and increases endurance.
You’ll be surprised how much stronger you feel after just a few workouts. The true difficulty lies not in getting into the positions, but in maintaining them. Ultimately, with a stronger core, you have a stronger foundation for more powerful kicks and punches.
So it seems that when you combine the benefits of adding a personal yoga practice to your martial arts training routine, you’ll easily be fitter, healthier, and less injury-prone in your training and competitions.
Yoga’s way of balancing flexibility with core stability is particularly helpful for anyone who takes on the physical and mental challenges of martial arts and other sports competitions.
Good luck with your training!
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