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As a Muay Thai practitioner, your probably always looks at ways to improve your flexibility, balance and mobility. Yoga could be the key to your search, the main benefits of Yoga for Muay Thai are that it helps to improve flexibility, balance, mobility and breathing.
Many fighters will ignore the possibilities of Yoga helping them in their martial arts journey due to it's many pre-conceptions, however they are not true. Yoga can help your training and health in many ways, and in this article we'll delve into the many benefits of Yoga.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that involves physical poses, concentration, and deep breathing. It is believed to have originated in India over 5,000 years ago.
There are many different styles of yoga available meaning that you can find the perfect type of Yoga that suites what your looking for.
Top 10 benefits of Yoga for Muay Thai
1. It improves flexibility
Flexibility is a major part of Muay Thai, improved flexibility will help you to kick quicker and more powerful. It'll also benefit you when your throwing head kicks.
Practicing yoga regularly will help to increase your flexibility which you'll then be able to translate into your Muay Thai training.
2. It teaches you breathing techniques
Pranayama, often referred to as “yogic breathing,” is an important and beneficial aspect of yoga.
Yoga helps to teach you breathing techniques which will help to increase your lung capacity and will allow you to breath better whilst doing physical tasks.
Being able to breath correctly, and fill your lungs with oxygen is a great benefit for a high intensity sport like Muay Thai.
3. It helps to reduce the risk of injury
Injuries can be common in a high impact sport like Muay Thai, especially if your in a fight camp. Inflexibility and stiffness are huge predictors of future aches and injuries. When joints become obstructed and unable to perform their functions, we get stiff, achy, and unable to do many physical tasks.
The increased flexibility, mobility and muscle strength that you gain from doing Yoga will help to reduce your risk of becoming injured during your training.
4. It boosts your mental health
One of the core goals of yoga is to become a calmer, more present individual. As a result of this you can deal with stress better and you'll notice a drastic improvement in your physical and mental health.
An improved mental health will help make your fight camps easier and you'll also have an increased productivity when your training. Stress can also be extremely harmful to your health and your bodies recovery which will be detrimental to your training.
5. It helps to improve your balance
Balance is a major part of Muay Thai. A fighter with poor balance will be down-scored by the judges in a fight.
One of the main benefits of yoga is that it improves your balance and physical strength. The poses within yoga help to build an extremely strong core, as well as overall body strength and balance.
6. It helps to increase your mental strength
Yoga forces you to be in positions which you'll find uncomfortable, and by doing this you'll learn how to push through the pain, discomfort, and stress of certain situations.
Mental strength will help you to push through adversity in the ring, finding a way to overcome your challenges and a way to win the fight. It'll also help you to dig deeper and push harder in your training.
Yoga will teach yo to be comfortable even when you are uncomfortable. You’ll learn how to push past the mental barriers that are trying to break you down. You’ll learn how to turn the voices in your head off that are constantly screaming negativity at you and telling you to quit. You’ll learn how to turn a bad situation into a great opportunity with something as simple as changing your perspective.
7. It can help to boost immunity
When your immunity is compromised, your body becomes susceptible to illnesses. Becoming ill during a fight camp is the last thing you'd want, it'll lead to you being unable to train, and in some cases having to pull out of your fight.
The research is still evolving, but some studies have found a distinct link between practicing yoga (especially consistently over the long term) and better immune system functioning.
8. Yoga helps you to relax and sleep
Yoga has been shown to help improve how quickly you fall asleep, as well as the quality of sleep that you have. This is partly due to the aftereffects of exercise and the mental calming and stress relief provided by yoga specifically.
Sleep is key to your rest and recovery. Make sure that you're getting at least 8-hours of sleep.
9. Yoga can help to improve bone health
Many postures in yoga are isometric contractions, meaning the length of the muscles holding the pose doesn’t change, though they are fully engaged. Isometric exercises — especially when performed with the joints in flexion — have been found to increase bone density
10. It can reduce inflammation
Something you'll have to deal with during your Muay Thai training is inflammation. Yoga has been shown to help reduce inflammation.
Equipment needed to do Yoga at home
One of the best parts about yoga is that you don't really need any equipment to be able to do it!
If your wanting to do yoga at home, find a quite space with plenty of room where you won't be interrupted during your session. You'll also need to wear some comfortable clothes which have the ability to stretch.
A high quality yoga mat is also recommended to be able to do yoga at home.
How to learn Yoga
There are many ways in which you can learn yoga, however if your wanting to learn yoga at home, then we recommend following many of the fantastic videos on YouTube. We've added one of our favourites below.
Frequently asked questions
How often should I do Yoga?
If your a complete beginner we recommend adding at least one Yoga session into your weekly routine. As you continue to progress then you may want to do more.
The most important thing is that your Yoga sessions don't replace your Muay Thai sessions. Look at doing Yoga as your AM session with Muay Thai being your PM session, or vice-versa.
Will Yoga help me to loose weight?
Yoga will help you to loose weight. During your yoga sessions you'll be burning calories which will in-turn help you to shed some pounds.
Don't let the many pre-conceptions of yoga stop you from doing it. There are so many benefits of yoga for Muay Thai and it's certainly something that you should start to help improve your training and Muay Thai performance.
Remember that things take time and that although adding Yoga into your training routine might not instantly benefit your Muay Thai training, with consistency you will begin to see results and improvements pretty soon.