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Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, built for meditation and revered for it’s effect on the human body. Martial arts are a form of precise fighting, originating in the East and spreading world wide as far as it could have. So, how then, could the two be combined to make a complete art? What are the benefits behind this combination and what styles of martial arts is it used for, if any? The benefits are many – since martial arts require discipline of the body and yoga teaches this, you have more control and flexibility. People that practice muay thai and Brazilian jiujitsu benefit most from using yoga because of their dependency on grappling and ground fighting, and also breathing control. Chuck Liddell, Ken Shamrock, Diego Sanchez has even been known to endorse, knowing the benefits of yoga and making the most of it.
Yoga is a series of mental and physical disciplines and is associated with meditative practice. The goal of which, of course, is to lead the practitioner to spiritual enlightenment, but it also has it’s effects on the body as well. With the practice of yoga comes increased flexibility, intense bodily control, breathing control, and mental clarity – all of which are important to practicing martial arts, because you are teaching your body these things as well, and this is one of the reasons that yoga and martial arts go hand in hand, especially to those who practice MMA, muay thai, or Brazilian Jiujitsu.
Muay Thai one martial art that relies on bodily control. Most of the moves are dependent on the gyration of the hips to drive the blows home to their destination – even on simple kicks and punches. It uses eight points of contact to strike and requires excellent balance, extreme concentration and fast reflexes – all of which can be achieved and strengthened by using yoga.
Brazilian Jiujitsu is another form of martial arts that is reliant on holds and grappling and there is a lot of ground rolling as well. The holds and grappling must be tight enough for the opponent not to wriggle free, and they must be held and concentrated upon for them to work properly. This is something that yoga will also teach us. It can, in fact, improve function so much that prize fighters often use yoga and endorse it as a tool that has helped them win.
Fighters such as Diego Sanchez have proudly boasted that yoga has helped his concentration and has worked to improve his mind. He claims that this form of meditation, along with physical drills is the best way to train. Other fighters agree. Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell are two of the most famous mixed martial artists and they also advocate yoga as a key to their training. Shamrock even has his own routine of yoga combined with mixed martial arts to train himself with the utmost discipline and readiness. All of them agree, and many physical trainers and other experts say that yoga is good practice for any sport, but especially mixed martial arts.
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