Korean yoga...brings you amazing strength and flexibility
We looked at our Korean taekwondo tour timetable for the 4 days with Master Kim. Each morning started with a light jog. Followed by Korean Yoga.
Great! We thought. That sounds like an easy, relaxing start to the day.
Relaxing? Yes- maybe.
Easy? Definitely not!
Master Yong Nam Kim
Meeting Master Yong-Nam Kim was a moment we will never forget. He is a quiet, unassuming man.
Immediately we felt we were looking at someone at one with the world. Someone comfortable and happy in his own skin. With incredible calmness. And not a frown line in site.
Later that day we looked at his card.
7th Dan Taekwondo. 1st class Yoga instructor. Korean Zen Master. 1st class chiropractor. International referee of Kukkiwon.
We jogged from our beautiful Korean pension along a little mountain road to Master Kim's house. The air smelled crisp and fresh. And the early morning sun warmed our backs.
And as we lined up for yoga we could hear the river that runs behind Master Kim's garden gently bubbling over the rocks.
Every so often a slight breeze blew and cherry blossoms rained down on us from above. Perfect!
sim in bup
The first move we learned was sim in bup.
This is a series of 3 basic, circular type movements with the arms while concentrating on the breathing
It's deceptively simple.
Yet it's incredibly effective in calming the body and mind.
We've been practising it since. And our conclusion is that it's a great de-stresser.
Master Kim also uses sim in bup in his taekwondo classes. When we were a bit out of breath and struggling to master techniques he asked us to do sim in bup a couple of times.
It was amazing how we felt calmer, less out of breath and able to think.
Yoga at Yongin University
On Saturdays Master Kim teaches Korean yoga to students aiming to become yoga teachers themselves.
We joined a three hour class at Yongin University. This is where it got really tough.
The other students were incredibly flexible.
And we on the other hand. Are not!
We did our best. And found ourselves in the most amazing positions.
Imagine this. Lie on your front. Then bend your legs up behind your back and grab an ankle with each hand. Then hold on tight and roll onto your side and back again without letting go of your ankles.
And then roll to the other side.
Or what about lying on your back. Then putting your hands by your ears, fingers pointing down towards your feet.
Now lift into a bridge position. Then hold it.
And lift up each leg in turn and point your toe towards the ceiling. Hold it for 20 seconds.
Believe us we learned about muscles we never knew we had!
After the class we enjoyed tea and cake with our fellow students.
They asked us whether we found taekwondo or yoga more difficult.
The answer was a unanimous one.
Origins of Korean yoga
Korean yoga is called Kuksundo.
It was developed from Indian yoga by Korean Buddhist Monks.
The monks wanted to train in a calm manner following the natural movement of the body.
And they wanted to work every muscle. They also focused on developing the mind and spirit.
They placed great emphasis on Tangun breathing. This means breathing deeply using your lower abdominal muscles rather than moving your chest and ribs.
And after the yoga?
And then slept.
Maybe there's something in this Korean yoga?