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Don’t be afraid to be that guy in the yoga class. It just might be the best decision you ever made for your muscles and overall athletic development!

Today, you see more yoga classes included in Martial Arts Schools especially with schools who teach Muay Thai. However many men remain confused about what happens inside those classes and how they should feel about it.

• Is it stretching? • Is it meditation? • Or some combination thereof, or something else entirely? • Could it be the secret to unlocking your tight hips and superhuman athletic potential, or will it just make you sprout a man bun and go all new agey?

Here are some good reasons why men should consider adding yoga to their martial arts conditioning.

1) Yoga increases range of motion - You may think that range of motion is the same thing as flexibility, but it’s a little different. Many guys know they have a tight muscle group or two—most frequently the hamstrings, glutes, pecs, and shoulders. But they may not realize the limitations any of these place on their ability to train through a full range of motion. The more you train them through a limited range of motion, the more limited you become as a lifter—and a functional human being.

A well-designed yoga class emphasizes movements that open up virtually all of these problem areas, because everyone, everywhere, can benefit from opening up their hunched shoulders and tight hips. Consider this quality movement training of the first order.

2) Yoga improves breathing - Martial Arts training already has specialized breathing designed for competitive fast movements. But you’d probably find yourself challenged by how much yoga asks you to focus on inhaling and exhaling, particularly while you’re attempting to hold tough poses in unfamiliar movement planes. As a yoga class gets more intense, the breathing slows down rather than speeding up. This teaches you to take in long, slow breaths when you need them most, expanding your lung capacity to allow you to take in the same or greater amount of oxygen from fewer inhalations.

This is one reason you might feel a kind of bliss akin to the legendary “runner’s high” during a yoga class. More importantly, you’re training your body to oxygenate itself more efficiently. That’s important for cardio activity, strength training, and yes, muscle-building.

3) Yoga strengthens stabilizers

Every yogi out there has a story (or twenty) about that time they saw a strong, muscular guy walk into class and struggle with holding the simplest yoga poses. Why does this happen?Yoga includes many unique movements and poses that include lateral, twisting, and spinal-arch moves, as well as plenty of balance challenges—all of which are not typically present in many other forms of exercise. These moves force your body to work in new and unaccustomed ways, strengthening smaller stabilizer muscles and increasing joint health along the way. You’ll get stronger, sure, but you might also shore up a weak link that would otherwise lead you go get injured.

4) Yoga provides active rest - Many Type-A athletes feel like they’ll go stir-crazy if they can’t perform some form of activity. Yoga is a perfect option for these days. You’ll likely find it far more challenging than you expect, but it doesn’t usually demand a lot of recovery time. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to start with a 60-minute, level-one yoga class. These are often available at full-service gyms and some Martial Arts Schools. They’re a little rarer at yoga studios, where classes tend to be a little longer.

5) Yoga balances you - Yoga literally includes poses that help you improve your balance. One-legged poses, headstands, handstands, arm balances, and plenty of other tough challenges are all fair game. And no matter how many push-ups or body weight squats you can do, a good yoga teacher can find ways to make these expose your weaknesses.

Yoga encourages your body to move in unaccustomed ways by spending time in totally familiar postures. While athletes consider every workout to be beneficial most of us often end up performing the same types of movements too frequently. This is all well and good until that day comes when, all of a sudden, you can’t remember the last time you weren’t in pain.

I’ve heard it time and time again: “My back/hips/shoulders were always bugging me, but yoga made it 100 times better.”

6) Yoga enhances overall health - Yoga not only helps you feel good after hard training, but it provides other more distinct health advantages. More efficient breathing helps reduce blood pressure and lowers the stress response, for one. Yoga has also been shown to be excellent for helping to prevent or reduce problems associated with sciatica, carpal tunnel, or even rotator-cuff issues. Yoga even helps out martial arts practitioners with injuries caused by competitive fighting or simply strains from repetitive movements in class.

As a matter of fact we always end our Muay Thai classes with classic yoga stretches and poses to allow the practitioner a way to slow down and relieve all the tension caused by the high energy of the Muay Thai class allowing them to go home and sleep soundly. In fact some of our members actually fall asleep at the end of our class during shavasana (corpse pose). Shavasana is a meditative pose used to slow down and focus only on your breathing in a prone position while letting go of all sensations. This allows the practitioner to “Chill out” and relax.

So give us a call so we can provide a free class tryout today. Not only will you get in shape and learn to defend yourself but you just may have the most restful night sleep ever.

Until then be safe.

Instructor Joe Chao

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