"In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You must research this well. "
Miyamoto Musashi

Yoga for Martial Arts

A Link between Yoga and Martial Arts

During the sixth century C.E. Boddidharma, a Buddhist monk from India, visited the Shaolin Temple in China and began to teach a form of physical health maintenance, believed to be Yoga. At the time the Buddhist monks who meditated for long hours were developing spiritually but weakening physically. A number of exercises were developed and these may have evolved into Shaolin Kung Fu.

Benefits of Yoga for Martial Arts

Photo of Mark in splits Flexibility

The importance of flexibility is often overlooked. Good flexibility allows your body to get into position more quickly and with less effort. Asana practice promotes a supple spine and flexible hips which are vital for fluid movement and applying power when required.

Strength

Yoga promotes balanced strength in your body. In a particular asana only those muscles actually required for its performance are used and those not required are relaxed. Over time the body begins to work in a more wholesome way, strength is developed and unnecessary effort and muscular imbalances reduced. Asymmetrical asana are performed on both sides so generating strength on both sides of the body.

Alignment

Yoga will help to improve alignment of the body leading to economy of movement, a reduction in injuries, increased speed of movement and to development of a good centre of gravity.

Body Awareness

Yogasana is undertaken slowly and consciously. The practice heightens your body awareness and allows more biofeedback and introspection to take place. Performing an asana you become aware of the intelligent use of the body, of which muscles are required and which are not involved in a movement. The intuitive understanding of the body gained through the practice of yoga will enable a martial artist to move more quickly, effectively and effortlessly and it will help you better understand how to affect the body of your opponent.

Photo of Mark in kneeling lunge Balance

In the martial arts you need to be aware of your centre and how it is affected by movements that you make before you can take the balance of, and hence execute a technique on, an opponent. The awareness developed through the practice of Yoga will lead to an understanding of the balance of the body and what is required to keep that balance in yourself or take it from another.

Breathing

Yoga develops awareness of the breath. Yogic breathing will aid balance of mind and body, improve endurance, reduce recovery time and calm the mind. A yoga pose works to unify the mind and body with the breath and to clear any blocks restricting the flow of prana (energy known as chi in Chinese and ki in Japanese).

Healing

Yogasana (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) are therapeutic and the healing aspects of Yoga are very beneficial to all martial artists.

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