This section provides details on a wide variety of yoga stretches and exercises used to improve martial arts flexibility, balance and/or for strength training (esp. core strength). Improved flexibility increases the range & power of your kicks, punches and grappling techniques as well as reduces the potential for over-extension injuries (i.e. hamstring pulls). Improved core strength also increases kicking power, punching power and grappling & submission strength.
Yoga is an ancient Indian fitness system that has been used for many years to improve the flexibility of elite athletes and to supplement traditional stretching techniques. According to WebMD, “In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga”. Moreover, since you must maintain a yoga pose for a length of time, yoga is also beneficial for improved balance, coordination, core strength, leg strength, etc. Furthermore, many martial artists use yoga for meditation, enhancing focus and stress relief. Yoga is also useful for older martial artists who want to supplement their martial arts training with greater flexibility drills in order to avoid age-related stiffness.
All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting any stretching or exercise program. For additional stretches and flexibility exercises, please visit the main Martial Arts Stretching section. Talk to a doctor before starting any yoga program, especially if you have any medical problems.
Yoga Benefits for Martial Artists
List of Yoga Stretches & Poses – with instructions & videos
- Boat Pose – The boat pose is a yoga stretch and core strengthening exercise.
- Bound Angle Pose
- Bow Pose – The bow pose stretches your back, chest, shoulders, etc.
- Bridge Pose – The bridge pose is used to loosen your chest, shoulders, back, etc.
- Butterfly Stretch – This stretch is used to loosen your groin, hips, etc.
- Camel Pose – The Camel Pose is used to stretch your back.
- Cat Stretch or Cat Pose – This stretch is used to loosen your back muscles.
- Cat-Cow Stretch or Cat-Cow Pose – This stretch is used to loosen your back, spine, stomach, etc.
- Chair Pose – The Chair Pose is used to strengthen your legs and stretch your calves and Achilles tendon.
- Child’s Pose – This stretch helps to loosen your back, shoulders, arms, thighs, etc.
- Cobra Stretch – This stretch is used to loosen your lower back, shoulders, etc.
- Cow Face Pose – The Cow Face pose is used to stretch your hips, shoulders, triceps, etc.
- Crow Pose – The Crow Pose is an advanced Yoga pose where you balance on your hands.
- Dancer’s Pose – The Dancer’s Pose is used for balance and flexibility training.
- Dolphin Pose – The Dolphin Pose stretches your calves, hamstrings, shoulders, etc.
- Downward Facing Dog – This classic yoga stretch is used to loosen your back, spine, hamstrings, etc.
- Extended Side Angle Pose – This yoga pose is used to stretch your obliques, side, groin, hips, legs, etc.
- Firefly Pose – The firefly is an advanced yoga pose.
- Fish Pose
- Frog Pose – The Frog Pose is used to stretch your groin, inner thighs and hips.
- Half Moon Pose – This stretch works on your obliques as well as your balance and core & leg strength.
- Heron Pose – The Heron Pose is a stretch used to loosen your hamstrings.
- Locust Pose – The Locus Pose is used to stretch and strengthen your back.
- Lotus Pose – This classic yoga pose stretches your hips, groin, etc.
- Low Lunge Pose – The Low Lunge Pose is used to stretch your groin, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Noose Pose
- Peacock Pose – This is an advanced Yoga pose that requires strength and balance.
- Pigeon Pose – The Pigeon Pose works on stretching and loosening your hips.
- Plank Pose – The Plank Pose is a great core strength exercise.
- Plow Pose – This Yoga stretch is an advanced back stretch.
- Pyramid Pose – This Yoga stretch will work on your hamstrings.
- Reverse Side Angle Pose
- Seated Forward Bend Stretch – This Yoga stretch helps your hamstrings.
- Seated Straddle Pose – This Yoga stretch will help improve your ability to reach high roundhouse kicks and side kicks.
- Seated Twist Pose – The Seated Twist Pose is a stretch that focuses on your back.
- Shoulder Stand Pose
- Side Plank Pose – This Yoga pose strengthens your core and upper body.
- Squat Pose – The Squat Pose works on your groin, hips, etc.
- Standing Big Toe Pose (or Standing Hand To Toe Pose) – This Yoga pose is good for improving your balance.
- Sun Salutation – One of the most famous Yoga poses.
- Tree Pose – This Yoga pose focuses on improving your balance.
- Triangle Pose – This is a beginner-level Yoga exercise that is used to stretch your hips, obliques, groin, hamstrings, etc.
- Upward Facing Dog – The Upward Facing Dog is an advanced variation of the Cobra Stretch.
- Upward Plank Pose – This Yoga exercise strengthens your core, arms and shoulders.
- Warrior 1 Pose
- Warrior 2 Pose
- Warrior 3 Pose
- Wheel Pose – The Wheel Pose is an advanced backbending Yoga stretch.
Is yoga a form of martial arts?
No. Traditional yoga is not a form of martial arts because it does not provide self-defense or combat training. Rather, yoga is an ancient system from India that is used to improve physical fitness traits such as flexibility, core strength, etc. It is also often used for mediation, stress relief, etc. Given the physical fitness benefits (especially improved flexibility), yoga is used by some martial artists in order to supplement their martial arts training. In recent years, we have seen the development of some modern hybrid systems (such as Budokon) that blend martial arts and yoga training.
- WebMD, Health Benefits of Yoga, http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/the-health-benefits-of-yoga