Complimentary Arts With Ancient Roots

How Yoga Can Benefit Martial Arts Training

The practices of both yoga and martial arts can awaken energy, or prana/chi, and increase awareness. Any competitor striving to stay in healthy shape could benefit by pairing their martial arts training with a solid personal yoga practice.

The very nature of yoga helps one develop flexibility, focus, balance, proprioception, and core strength, along with breathwork and proper alignment.

And in both arts, practitioners learn how to foster deeper connections. So, for anyone trying to take their fighting or kata 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!

Ancient Roots

What many modern martial artists might not be aware of is the fact that the traditional Vedic discipline of yoga is an ancient root of many of the martial arts styles still practiced today.

It is said to have extended from India 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. This deeply blended history is why yoga and martial arts share some fundamental core philosophies and have very similar stances, attention to breath, and movements.

Generally, in martial arts you learn to master your craft to win over your opponent… in yoga, the process turns inward to master the biggest and only opponent – yourself.

5 Ways Yoga Can Compliment Martial Arts Training

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 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.

Improves 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.

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.

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.

Core Strength & 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.
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Combined Benefits

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. It is the same for other sports and athletes.

Wherever your passion is, good luck with your training!