Why Is Yoga Stretching So Good For You?
After all don't you do enough stretching in your taekwondo classes?
Why would martial artists need to bother with yoga stretching as well?
Aren't there more important things to practise?
What's the big deal with yoga stretching?
When you practice yoga you learn to breathe really, really deeply. And you learn to focus and clear your mind.
And by concentrating on your breathing and slowing everything down you bring about a state of deep relaxation in your body.
And it's at this point of deep relaxation where the tension releases... and yoga magic happens.
Your muscles are free to truly and deeply relax and in time you discover the amazing flexibility that's been hidden inside you all these years.
For me the yoga exercises that bring most benefit to my tkd are hip opening exercises, hamstring stretches and spinal twists that free up my back and shoulders. I like to get to yoga classes if I can. But when time is tight, I use a yoga DVD at home.
My favorite is Yoga For Beginners by Barbara Benagh. There are a number of different routines on this DVD - the one I use most is a 30 minute session of seated hip openers - I can fit this in early in the morning or late at night and the benefits these stretches bring to my taekwondo are enormous.
But there's more to yoga than just stretching...
As you learn deep relaxation your martial art improves even more. The more relaxed you are, the more your body is supple and flows as you move.
This flow lets you harness the power inherent in your techniques.
Suddenly you find you don't need to force your foot through a breaking board because when you relax the soft powerful energy that's in your technique does the work for you.
Yoga practice also involves meditation. Meditation is incredibly good for you. It teaches you to relax and focus your mind.
This reduces stress and brings enormous health benefits.
Reducing stress makes you less prone to serious illness like heart disease and cancer.
And of course if you're more flexible and relaxed you are less prone to injury.
And if you do get injured... you can turn to your yoga to keep your mind strong and help your body recover.
Yoga brings balance to your life.
You could all your spend time learning patterns, perfecting your kicks and working on your self-defense. And of course if you do this your taekwondo will improve.
But if you want balanced growth in your martial art. And if you want to keep your body healthy for many years to come then my advice is to try to find space for a couple of yoga sessions each week.
Over time your physical and mental health will benefit and your taekwondo will improve out of sight.