Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yoga and the Martial Arts

Yesterday, one of my students lent me The Martial Artist's Book of YogaKnowing that I incorporate a variety of yoga stretches in my martial arts classes he thought I might find it useful. After five minutes of flipping through it, I ordered my own copy.

I've always considered yoga a wonderful complement to my martial arts training. Though I don't often have time to do classes, I do 20-25 minutes of yoga every morning after my 20 minutes of sitting meditation. Since I took up this practice, I've noticed a number of benefits: increased flexibility, greater overall body strength, improved balance and posture, and quicker recovery time after training.

There is a reason why yoga complements the martial arts so well. They come from the same roots. Bodhidharma developed a number of exercises, borrowing from yogic systems, and introduced them to the Shaolin monks in the 6th century in order to prepare their bodies for long periods of meditation. These exercises later served as the base from which Shaolin Kung Fu was developed.

With the rise MMA and UFC, an attitude has developed toward martial arts training that deemphasizes the mental and spiritual development, making it more about just learning to fight. I am of the opinion that the mental and spiritual aspects take your training to a higher level that cannot be learned when training solely for the ring.

No matter what your reasons are for taking up a martial art, The Martial Artist's Book of Yoga will introduce you to exercises that will help develop your body and mind for martial arts training. It's definitely worth checking out.

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