Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yoga for Martial Arts

There was a nice article over at Ikigai Way covering the basics of Yoga for Martial Arts: what types of classes are there, what are there pros and cons; etc. Below is an excerpt. The whole post may be read here.

The more I study martial arts, the more intrigued I am by Yoga. For awhile I was turned off by the sheer trendiness of it. It seemed like another vapid attempt by Westerners to find quick-fix solutions via Eastern philosophies. I wasn’t wrong…a lot of that goes on, but I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. Luckily, as time has progressed, I’ve read more about what makes Yoga tick and I’ve interacted with some high quality martial artists who are also avid Yoga practitioners.

One of the key individuals who started to clue me in on the whole thing was a gentleman named Greg Holmes. Holmes Sensei is a 6th dan in Shuri-ryu Karate and Okinawa Kenpo Kobudo. He’s also a highly regarded 2nd dan in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Some longtime readers may remember when Holmes Sensei introduced me to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with predictable results.

In addition to his martial arts resume, Greg-san is a 20 year practitioner of Yoga, complete with instructor certification. He has used the practice to heal and prevent injuries in both himself and many students. That’s why I asked him to help me understand the basics of what Yoga is, and how to get started as a raw newbie.

Without further delay, here are his thoughts. I hope they are useful to you if you are trying to further educate yourself on this healthful activity!

The yoga practice I’m addressing is a physical one.  Asana (postures) are the physical yoga poses you perform.  There are other forms of yoga but the physical practice through asana work comprise the overwhelming majority of classes offered in the United States.
The predominant form of asana practice right now is flow yoga.  It may be in a heated or unheated environment and last between 60 and 90 minutes.  Poses are typically held around 5 breaths then transition to another pose.
  • Upside – Transitions you through many poses and is a great workout due to the frequency of movement rather than just static holds.
  • Downside – Lack of detailed instruction. You don’t spend much time in each pose to allow a thorough breakdown of its elements.
There are basics classes at many schools which are not as flow oriented.  They address the most common beginner poses, provide a breakdown of a pose, and move at a much slower pace than a regular flow class.
  • Upside – Provides key details to poses which may not be addressed in a flow class.
  • Downside – Pace of the class is slow and does not provide much conditioning for someone who is already in shape.
Another type are intermediate/advanced classes that are not predominantly flow.  This type of class is becoming more difficult to find.
  • Upside – Provide detailed instruction on the more challenging poses.
  • Downside – Must have some background in the basics before attending. Yoga is as much about knowledge of the poses as physical ability to perform them at a high level.

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