Yoga and martial arts is the perfect match – doing yoga makes you a better martial artist and vice versa. Here’s what you should know about yoga for martial arts and the top yoga poses to try.
Why yoga and martial arts are a great match
For martial arts, you need flexibility, balance and functional strength. Yoga improves all three! Yoga stretches make you more flexible and increase your range of motion so you can kick higher and reach further. Increased core strength gives your punches and kicks more power, while improved balance makes you more steady.
Overextension injuries are common in martial arts – for example, hamstring pulls – but if you compliment your training with yoga, the risk goes down. It’s because you’ll be more flexible and more mobile. At the same time, yoga also improves your focus and body awareness, making your movements more precise.
On top of that, many martial artists greatly benefit from yogic mindfulness and meditation practice. Throughout each yoga session, you should stay present and focus on your breath and movement – being mindful. This should be the same in martial arts training but because yoga is slower-paced, it helps to develop your mindfulness.
It’s no surprise that many martial artists made yoga a part of their schedule, for example, Jonathan Brookins, Darren O’Gorman or Conor McGregor.
If you’re not flexible, yoga is just the thing for you!
Many people hesitate with yoga because they are not flexible. Worry not! Yoga is what makes you more flexible!
Each of us has our own limits, so we can’t promise that after a month of yoga, you’ll be a contortionist but you will certainly see improvements. And those improvements are exactly what will also help you in your martial arts training!
You can probably feel that some of your movements might be somewhat limited when you train and maybe you do some deep stretching to work on that. Yet yoga can offer more – it combines stretching with strength training and breathwork, and all that helps you go deeper and further.
Isn’t yoga all peaceful and against combative sports?
Well, yoga is peaceful but it’s also a comprehensive body and mind training program. Both yoga and martial arts are about focus, fine-tuned body coordination and self-development. Even the great Bruce Lee did yoga and meditation!
Yoga is also meant to make you more resilient, both physically and mentally. Those long holds and transitions between poses increase your endurance and make you work with your internal monologue. This helps you to overcome negative self-talk and reach your goals!
5 best yoga poses for martial artists
These poses stretch and strengthen your body in all the right ways, and so are a great place to start!
Extended side angle
What it does: This multitasker of a pose stretches your inner thighs, strengthens your quads and hip abductors, stretches the side body and strengthens the deltoids
Pay attention to: Front knee above the ankle, not falling in or out, front and back heels in one line, extended arm in one line with the back leg
Stay in the pose for 10 breaths.
What it does: This pose is a great core strengthener and it tones and engages the whole anterior chain, while also making your deep stabilizers work to maintain balance
Pay attention to: Back as straight as possible, not rounding, legs together – if you can’t keep them straight, bend the knees slightly so your shins are parallel with the ground
Stay in the pose for 10-15 breaths.
What it does: It stretches your hamstrings, lower back, and fascia in your whole lower body
Pay attention to: Pelvis directly above the back knee, front foot flexed, back not rounding but straight-ish
Stay in the pose for 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Extended locust pose
What it does: Strengthens the whole posterior chain and your core, improves balance and focus
Pay attention to: Lift legs first, then upper body to stay symmetrical, keep legs together and gaze forward
Stay for 10 breaths, and try to maintain deep breaths even though your breathing space is limited here.
Revolved crescent lunge
What it does: It stretches hip flexors and glutes, opens hips, releases tension from lower back and tones your upper back
Pay attention to: Front knee above the ankle, back leg straight, arms in one long line
Stay for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Try a complete yoga program
Yoga is excellent for martial artists but if you’re a beginner and not sure where to start, it may be a little intimidating. Try our Beginner program – you’ll learn all the basics but it’s also challenging enough for you to feel the effects! A series of five 30-minute yoga workouts will guide you through all you need to know and you’ll be surprised by how much you can already do.
Or, if you’re already a yoga practitioner and want to do more, challenge yourself with our Mobility Skills Flow – also a five-part series but this one takes you to a new level!
Make yoga a part of your routine and you’ll reap the rewards in your martial art of choice!