Have you ever wondered why the interest and popularity of yoga classes nowadays dwarfs the interest in martial arts classes? Why is it that nearly every single Yoga or Pilates School in the country is thriving, when clearly the martial arts have so much more to offer?
Now! Before I get inundated with a whole heap of e-mails, I’d like to clarify my point. Although I’ve never officially practiced any form of yoga, I have seen classes and read many articles on the subject. I personally think it’s a great form of exercise and has many health benefits associated by practicing this ancient art form. In fact, there are many similarities between the practice of yoga and the martial arts that are undeniable, specifically both are congruent in promoting longevity and healthy lifestyles.
It seems that whenever a celebrity shares their secret to looking good or using a particular product, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. They feel as though, “if this celebrity is using such and such a product, then it must be good” and next thing you know, everyone is buying that product. Without a doubt, the hottest fad in Hollywood at the moment is yoga, and guess what? Everyone now wants to do yoga; it’s the “in thing” to do. The more famous the celebrity, the more people want to get involved.
Yoga has been around for a very long time, infact I remember as a young kid watching the very first yoga programme on Australian commercial television back in the late 60’s with Swami Sarasvati. Although she was the first person in Australia to promote it publicly, it never really caught on. For reasons unknown, the appeal for yoga wasn’t really there. This may have been due to lack of public awareness or lack of education but the interest was never there. You never saw yoga schools pop up everywhere like you see today and you certainly never had Hollywood stars promote the benefits of practicing yoga.
Typically a yoga class is a 90 minute lesson consisting of postures or poses that are held for a period of time. These poses are generally done on a matted area and you’ll generally find incense burning in the background just to give you that added authentic touch. Depending on the style of yoga practiced, poses are done with or without props and yet other styles like Bikram yoga for example, are done in steam rooms. These poses or postures are designed to build core strength, increase range of movement through flexibility, promote balance, improve breathing and above all make you feel good, the benefits are clearly undeniable.
Although martial arts and yoga both engage the brain, what makes martial arts more fun is that you’re gaining all the benefits of yoga and more. Most martial arts schools nowadays offer a wide variety of classes, compared to the typical yoga class. It’s not uncommon for most martial arts schools to offer up to three, four or even five types of martial arts within the one school. It’s never boring and you’re always learning something new. Martial arts classes are designed in such a way, that you’re meant to develop a series of successes along your journey to Blackbelt and beyond. These seemingly small successes have an overflow effect into other areas of your life including: health, work, family and your overall success in life. Martial arts classes have been proven time and time again to produce quality human beings, leaders that contribute and give back to the community.
A typical martial arts class can vary anywhere from 60 – 90 minute lesson and start off with some sort of warm up. Depending on what style of martial art you practice, this warm up might involve the use of training equipment such as focus mitts. This allows you to punch and kick the mitts burning off calories but more importantly, developing physical skills should the need arise. Stretching is also very big part of the martial arts as it is in yoga, after warming up students will generally run through a variety of stretching sequences designed to promote flexibility and prevent potential injuries throughout the lesson.
Once upon a time, the typical martial arts class was very much regimented with strict discipline being the norm. These days martial arts classes are about having fun, infact you’ll find that a lot of martial arts schools nowadays training to music… try finding that in yoga. This has an uplifting euphoric effect on the mind designed to accelerate the learning process. Gone are the days where the only voice in class was the instructors, these days students are free and encouraged to ask questions that were once not allowed but more importantly the classes are meant to be fun.
It’s not uncommon nowadays to see students laughing and enjoying the learning process while at the same time disciplined enough, to be able to develop some extra-ordinary life saving martial arts skills. Students are taken through a structured curriculum that reinforces and promotes a series of positive experiences so that the learning process is seamless. Students have a clear vision of where they are and where they’re heading; it’s all clearly mapped out for them in the form of a curriculum.
Next time you’re thinking about the many options available to you and the different ways to invest your time, do yourself a favour and try the martial arts. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the depth of knowledge and level of intensity that a martial arts program can offer.
Until Next Time
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