Martial arts have long been some of the most popular sports in the world.
Not only do they give you an amazing way to exercise almost every aspect of your health, mind, and body, but you can also often learn some pretty interesting and effective self-defense techniques at the same time (depending on the style and school you are practicing).
However, martial arts aren’t simply about learning how to punch, strike, and otherwise move and attack your opponent.
Most, if not all, martial arts also revolve around the philosophical aspect of their practices, as well as practicing mindfulness and meditation. After all, all that practice goes to waste without control.
And, wouldn’t you know it? One of the best methods for practicing mindfulness and control is the art of yoga!
In this guide, we’re going to show you some of the best yoga poses that you can learn and practice for kung fu, karate, or pretty much any other kind of martial art that you may be practicing.
Ones that help with both working muscles that these martial arts use, as well as finding calmness before or after practice.
Downward Dog To Leg Kick Out
Let’s start with a pose and sequence that pretty much anyone will have at least heard of before!
The downward dog is probably one of the most iconic poses and positions that you’ll see practiced in yoga, with a ton of great health benefits to it that everyone can benefit from, martial artists included, from increased upper body strength to increased balance and control.
However, these benefits are made even more apparent by combining one or more poses with others into sequences. For martial arts practitioners for arts like Kung Fu, we recommend a sequence that includes the downward dog and leg kick-out poses.
You’ll start from the downward dog position, with your hands and wrists held against the ground and aligned with your shoulders, and on the balls of the feet, appearing like an upside-down V.
From the downward dog, you’ll then need to lift your right arm from the mat, supported entirely by the left arm. Now, you’ll twist to your right, lift your left leg, and kick out to your right side.
Remember to twist your right arm inwards as you do the kicking notion, to give you the balance that you need while doing this motion.
Then you simply pull everything back into the downward dog position and repeat as many times as you need to. Alternating between the right and the left side is also a great way to work out both halves of your body.
If you’re looking for a great pose that pushes both your upper body strength, your flexibility, and balancing skills, this is a great pose to use!
Moving on from a pretty advanced yoga technique to one that is a little easier for beginners to wrap their heads around, the boat pose is one of our favorite yoga poses for showing newcomers of both yoga and/or kung fu!
However, don’t think that this is a pose that can be done easily. You’ll be pushing both your balancing skills and your stamina and endurance pretty far with this yoga technique!
As we said, it’s a pretty simple pose to understand. You start by laying flat on a surface (ideally a yoga mat), with your hand down by your hips.
Then, you’ll lift from your sternum and lean slightly backward, avoiding rounding out on your back, balancing on the sacrum bone at the base of your spine (that small triangular bone next to your hips, where your coccyx/tailbone comes from).
Once you feel like you’re balanced, you then lift your thighs and legs, so they are at around 45 degrees from the ground, exhaling while you do this.
If you are feeling confident and want to push yourself, straighten your legs so that your feet and toes are slightly above eye level. If not, simply keeping your legs slightly bent at the knee is fine too.
With your back and legs in the right position, now you can raise your arms to your legs, holding them straight against your leg. You’ll look something like an upside-down A in this position.
Now, all you need to do is hold this position for around 15 to 20 seconds, before slowly reclining back into the laid-down position.
Shoulder Scorpion Stretch
This one can feel a little awkward when trying it out for the first time. But trust us when we say that the shoulder scorpion stretch is an ideal way of both improving flexibility for martial artists, as well as a great way to warm up or cool off before a sparring or training session.
You’ll start by laying face down against the floor or yoga mat, with your arms spread out and palms against the ground to give you better support and balance for the main maneuver. Your legs should start straight and about shoulder width apart from each other.
With your body in the starting position, you can now bend your left knee backward and upwards into the air, and roll onto your left side. Then simply pull the leg back, and repeat the motion for the opposite side.
Perform a few reps of this sequence in your warm-up routine, and you’ll be ready and limber for a hard day’s training!
Bound Angle Pose
A staple yoga position for practitioners across the world, the bound angle pose might be one of the most famous alongside the downward dog.
It’s a lower body and groin exercise that is perfect for limbering up and stretching, as well as increasing flexibility in your pelvic area. It’s simple to understand and replicate and can be done in a small exercise space too. No wonder so many people love it!
The position starts and stays in a seated position, with the soles of the feet pressed against each other, the knees bent outwards, and your spine and back pointed as straight upwards as possible.
As you inhale, you press your elbows into the sides of your legs and gently push them further to the ground. At the same time, stretch your neck and the crown of your head until you’re looking up at the ceiling, or until you feel a little tension in your neck muscles.
Hold this position while gently inhaling and exhaling for around six to eight breathing cycles, or until it becomes more uncomfortable. Then, simply lower your neck, and allow your legs to rise back up.
Be careful not to apply too much pressure or strength to your legs in the bound angle position, or too quickly, for that matter. This position has been known to cause some pretty nasty injuries when pushed too far, such as strained or torn muscles as the legs are pushed too far.
Just gently follow the steps, and you’ll have an amazing new pose to try out for yourself!
If you’re looking for a yoga pose that helps build your core strength, you’ve come to the right place with this next entry of ours!
With a stretching stance that pushes your abs as well as helps you extend your range of motion, pretty much any kind of martial artist that wants to improve the range of their strikes should at least try this particular pose.
You’ll start this sequence in the high lunge stance, with your left leg back and your right leg forward. From this point, you lean forward so that your spine is in line with your forward leg.
Then, with your palms together, lean and twist towards the right side, keeping your left elbow in line with your right knee. Hold that position for a few breath cycles, then return to the lunging stance you started in.
From here, it’s just a matter of swapping your leg positions around, and doing the same for the opposite side!
The bow pose is a pretty advanced yoga position to try out, with a decent amount of stamina and flexibility required to get in the pose in the first place.
We would only recommend this stance for people who have been practicing martial arts and yoga for a while, before trying to attempt this one for themselves and avoid injury.
If you have, then feel free to try this advanced position out!
You’ll start this pose by laying flat on your stomach, with your feet pointed away from the mat or floor, and your head pointed ahead.
From the starting point, you can then lift your legs, grab them with your hands, lift your chest, and hold for 3 to 4 breathing cycles.
This is a pose that is perfect for stretching the muscles across your back, abdomen, chest, and even your feet and neck.
So, there you have it!
There’s a temptation with many martial arts to focus on the power-building exercises out there to improve your martial arts game, kung fu included.
But as you’ll soon find out, there is plenty to learn, enjoy, and build when trying out some of these more seemingly simple, yet intensive yoga poses to your routine.
We hope that this list and guide have helped prove that to you and that you’ll be incorporating some or all of these into your next training session!