Yoga and MMA.
Be honest for a moment:
Have you ever thought you would see the two in the same sentence? Probably not. But, as you’ll see in a moment, yoga is profoundly beneficial for MMA training on numerous fronts.
Without further ado, let’s discuss six incredible benefits of practising regular yoga for MMA performance.
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Six Fantastic Benefits Of Yoga For MMA Training
Yoga is an ancient practice with proven benefits for the mind, body, and soul. It combines movement, mindfulness, and deep breathing to calm the mind, make us happier, improve our flexibility, and strengthen our muscles.
As you’ll see in a moment, regular yoga practice is also great for your MMA training. And The best part? You don’t need to spend that much time on it. As little as a couple of sessions per week can help you reap tremendous benefits and become the best mixed martial artist you can be.
Ready? Let’s see what the benefits are:
1. Improves Flexibility
Ask anyone today, and most people would tell you that yoga is excellent for flexibility. They are not wrong. One of the most notable yoga benefits relates to our flexibility – our muscles’ ability to lengthen.
This allows us to perform various activities through a longer range of motion, maintain joint health, and lower the risk of acute muscle injuries.
This is a vital characteristic for any martial artist because the sport often involves awkward positions that can sometimes lengthen a muscle group past its natural ability and result in an injury.
What’s great about yoga is that it also improves our mobility – the body’s ability to move through different ranges of motion and produce adequate power for specific tasks. Many yoga poses challenge us on several fronts:
- Assuming and maintaining challenging positions
- Being able to support our body weight with different muscle groups in the body
- Being able to move from one end of a range of motion to the other smoothly and while in complete control
- Maintaining balance and stability throughout all of it
As a result, we improve our flexibility but also become more mobile, which is incredibly valuable if our goal is to become more athletic.
2. Reduces the Risk of Injuries
Sport-related injuries typically occur because of two things:
- Specific and repeated type of stress on the joints and connective tissues that worsens their integrity and leads to a cumulative injury
- Significant stress on the joints, connective tissues, and muscles that leads to an acute injury
The good news is, MMA fighters don’t typically deal with cumulative injuries due to the number of martial arts in MMA. The bad news is, acute injuries are common, especially when fighters put themselves in an awkward position.
Yoga is a fantastic activity for MMA practitioners precisely because it improves mobility and flexibility. As a result, trainees have much better control over their bodies and greater balance.
These things allow them to maintain an upper hand and avoid getting put in a compromised position. Even if they end up in a less than optimal position, their tissues are ready to handle it, so the risk of acute injuries is much lower.
3. Improves Balance and Coordination
Good balance and muscular coordination are undoubtedly two vital characteristics for MMA fighters. The sport is incredibly demanding and calls for exceptional athleticism if the trainee ever hopes to improve significantly.
Balance is critical because it allows the fighter to maintain control in difficult situations. Coordination is vital for effective self-defense, offensive combinations, and the ability to use multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Yoga might seem like something only suitable for stretching your muscles, but its benefits run much deeper than most people imagine. Sure, some beginner poses mostly work to improve your flexibility. But almost all poses and sequences you will ever learn make you more balanced and coordinated.
Take, for example, the warrior 1 pose:
This is a highly challenging pose that helps you develop lower body strength and balance while also strengthening your core and teaching you how to engage your back and glutes better.
As a result, MMA fighters have a solid foundation, remain balanced, defend themselves better, and make offensive moves much more effectively.
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4. Improves Mental Health And Reduces Stress
An ever-growing body of research suggests that yoga is a great activity for improving our mental health and allowing us to cope with stress. Of course, before we ever had researched studies, countless people still used yoga for these purposes and found it extremely effective.
One potential reason could be that yoga emphasizes deep breathing techniques that allow us to become more mindful and focused. Thanks to that, yoga often feels like a meditative experience that also strengthens your body.
Yoga is also great for melting stress and bringing about a deep sense of relaxation and satisfaction. Of course, you need to be mindful, focus on your breathing, and try to remain as present as possible for it to deliver these effects.
And the best part? Combining yoga with martial arts is a fantastic way to magnify these benefits, reduce stress even further, and maintain your mental health.
Plus, mindfulness and focus are valuable traits and can make you a superior fighter, capable of remaining calm and collected.
5. It Teaches You to Stay Calm In Difficult Situations
At its core, yoga is about calming the mind, controlling your breathing, and learning how to be present. Good yoga teachers explain the importance of mindfulness and preach tactics like feeling the right muscles working, maintaining balance, and working through the difficulty.
As a result, yoga helps us become calmer and more collected. It allows us to evaluate situations, consider our options, and act accordingly. It’s not about being reactive. It’s about being proactive and not making rash decisions.
While highly dynamic, MMA is much more nuanced than most people imagine. The fighter capable of remaining calm and avoiding rash decisions is almost always the one who gains the upper hand and wins the bout.
In contrast, not being able to stay calm brings about nervousness and fear, both of which cloud our judgment and force us to make poor decisions.
6. Improves Your Breathing
Breathing is at the core of good athletic performance. The body uses oxygen to produce ATP molecules for energy at all times, and good breathing allows us to get enough oxygen.
Deep breathing allows us to perform better, do more work before getting exhausted, and recover more quickly between bouts of activity. In contrast, shallow and rapid breathing hinders us and reduces our performance.
The great news is, countless papers show that yoga is a fantastic activity for improving our deep breathing abilities.
But how does that happen?
Because yoga mixes physical activity with mindfulness and breathing exercises. As a result, we expand our rib cage, improve our lung capacity, and get better at breathing deeply, even while engaging our core musculature.
All of this translates to better performance, more energy, and superior fighting abilities.
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Conclusion: Should You practice yoga for MMA?
Yes! you should practice yoga for MMA.
We’ve covered a lot of ground today, so let’s do a recap of the benefits:
- It’s a fantastic activity for improving your flexibility and mobility and allowing you to move freely through space
- Thanks to yoga’s abilities to improve flexibility and mobility, your risk of getting injured is much smaller
- Yoga is a fantastic activity for strengthening your core, becoming more balanced, and improving muscle coordination
- Yoga is a fantastic activity for melting stress, improving your mental health, and helping you become more mindful
- Thanks to the many breathing exercises, you become calmer and more present, which helps you remain collected under challenging situations and avoid making rash decisions
- Yoga is fantastic for expanding your rib cage, increasing your lung capacity, and improving your ability to breathe deeply
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