Yoga for Martial Arts - why bother?
Flexibility: the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear “yoga!” A class dedicated to bending, twisting, arching, and inverting your body goes farther than randomized stretches once in a blue moon. Make it a regular habit and the results will show.
Breathing: an essential (and sadly underrated) part to any athletic performance is your breathing. For proper pacing, decision-making under stress, and recovery between rounds: huffing and puffing through your mouth is not optimal. Yoga focuses on nasal-diaphragm breathing, and you can take this directly into your training.
Balance: holding various yoga poses -> leads to better awareness of your body parts in space (“kinesthetic intelligence”) -> leads to improved balance and movement. Stand-up martial arts can especially benefit from this, but so can your general stability.
Strength: thinking that yoga class is equal to naptime is a common misconception! Although it’s generally light-intensity, you haven’t been to my class yet there is a lot of bodyweight strength involved, particularly in the core and shoulders. Combine strength with balance and flexibility, and you’re in for a fun challenge.
Focus: controlling your breath throughout the entire practice, and focusing your gaze on a single fixed point are two key ways that yoga turns the mind and senses inward. Your ability to maintain concentration for an extended period of time is also known as Dharana, which is one step before entering meditation.
Body Awareness: get to know your own (very individual) anatomy. Physically, you’ll soon find out where your muscular imbalances are, and what anatomical advantages and disadvantages you have. You’re not expected to imitate the teacher exactly; you’re expected to find the version of the pose that fits you. Carry this over to your training and learn to develop your own fighting style.
Self Reflection: where the real growth happens. Blessed are those with the ability to look at themselves objectively - and yoga is a great tool for developing this. Sitting with yourself at the end of practice in a relaxed state, breath regulated, Parasympathetic Nervous System activated: your mind is an empty sheet, primed for soft focus and calm contemplation on your thoughts and emotions.
March 03, 2022 — Sarah Alburakeh

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