I believe that the importance of yoga for Muay Thai success is heavily underrated. Fighters sleep, go to a training session, rest in the afternoon, again take part in another training session in the evening, and get back to bed.
Yeah, they live like warriors and it’s perfectly fine. But here is the problem – your body is constantly under an extreme level of tension. Yoga sounds like a great recommendation, does it? I mean, there are so many weird poses, but please think differently – your flexibility is going to rock, plus your life is going to get better.
Less stress, more high kicks, better movement, peaceful life. I am challenging you to get out of your comfort zone! Let’s start!
Why Would Someone Try Yoga For Muay Thai Success?
I know you’re going to criticize me, maybe you will stop reading this text right now. But please, give me a shot, don’t live in the 20th century. This is the 21st century, the era of innovation and new training methods. The sport is evolving, you have to sacrifice your traditional points of view if you plan to push your striking game to the next level.
According to my point of view, the top five outstanding benefits of yoga for Muay Thai are:
- Focus and concentration;
- Balance and coordination;
- Mental power;
- Physical strength.
There are many other positive sides of yoga for Muay Thai – mental preparation before the fight, including muscles that have never worked before into the training plan, better vascularization, etc.
But I will focus on the top 5 because the key is pushing your game to the next level for competitors, or creating a better life with less stress for recreational practitioners. Don’t underestimate the power of the Far East, it’s time to start working on yourself!
Is Yoga Good For Muay Thai Flexibility?
Oh yeah, it can turn you into one of the most flexible fighters on the planet. I know, some of you are going to say – man, this is not a Taekwondo competition. It isn’t, but I told you to get out of your comfort zone.
Let me give you an example. A good Brazilian (downward roundhouse) kick can knock your opponent out cold. Fighters who struggle with hip and hamstring flexibility are going to have a hard time landing head kicks, which means fewer weapons in your arsenal. Punches and elbows aren’t going to be enough against top-notch opponents.
Why would you focus on fists, body kicks, and clinch when you can finish every combo with a head kick? Muay Thai warriors are trained to march forward and fight toe-to-toe, a leading leg roundhouse kick to the head could lead to a massive knockout blow (you can’t perform it with poor hip flexibility) !
The variety of stretches in Yoga class will improve the flexibility of your chest, shoulders, spine, and neck muscles. It consequently leads to better ducking and a greater ability to evade the incoming shots. You rarely see Thai fighters with good head movement, do you? Well, it might change after a few months of yoga classes.
Can You Focus Better Because Of Yoga?
For me, this is benefit number one of yoga for Muay Thai. This is not a joke, I am dead serious. When you fight, you’re watching your opponent in the eyes and you’re trying to think faster than him, right? One wrong strike to the campus and you’ll end up on the floor. Your foe is going to celebrate the win, while you’re going to leave the ring as a loser.
Yoga teaches you to control your emotions and frustrations in the fight. When the opponent breaks the rule, and the ref doesn’t see it, a non-experienced dude or a rookie will probably try to swarm all over the place. Yet, it’s dangerous, because the head and body stay open, which leaves the opportunity for powerful counters and potential knockout blows.
Second, you will learn to breathe better. There are tons of breathing drills in yoga classes. For me, it is one of the top-notch benefits of yoga for Muay Thai, because you will recover your cardio faster after a brutal barrage of bullets, especially in the later rounds. It helps you slow down your heart rate and control the fight.
Your spatial intelligence is going to improve. The opponent will have a hard time trapping you against the ropes or in the corner.
Will Yoga Affect Balance And Coordination?
The third thing that comes to my mind when you mention yoga for Muay Thai is its positive effect on balance and coordination. I’ve seen so many fighters getting chopped down by way weaker opponents, especially when the foe catches their leg after a body kick attempt.
But high-quality yoga classes are equal to proprioceptive training sessions. Ok, let me translate to English – your enemy will hardly drag you to the ground so you’ll leave a better impression on judges.
Yoga consists of weird poses and stances, which is highly beneficial for your cerebellum (it controls balance). For example, fighters who have never worked on calisthenics will get dragged to the ground easier than ring warriors who perform somersaults all the time. The brain adjusts to a new level of activity.
I believe a few weeks of yoga practice will enhance the balance of your standing leg. Train hard, never give up, and you won’t get chopped down that easily!
Can Yoga Strengthen Muay Thai Fighter Mentally?
This is the hardest area to deal with in Muay Thai combat. Everybody cracks under pressure, especially in later rounds. Your legs hurt, your head is bruised due to elbows and punches, maybe the doctor threatens to stop the fight due to massive bleeding. Can you deal with that?
I am going to confess, I love training, workouts, gyms, healthy lifestyle. But just like Georges St-Pierre, I hate the day of fights, the half an hour you must spend between the ropes against the guy who wants to kill you.
It’s unbearable man, you might end up with a brain injury, go insane, even if you win the belt. The world will remember your name, but you have to survive the three or five rounds of war.
When things get rough, a mentally strong person gets out of his comfort zone and adjusts to the new situation. Surrender is not an option, your brain enters “fight or flight” mode, you start fighting for your life. You eat shots but still march forward and take part in toe-to-toe exchanges because the match is not over yet.
Yoga for Muay Thai is going to help you here, as it teaches you to become much more in tune with your body, mind, and spirit (this is important, I know you’re laughing now but I’m telling you, don’t think like a casual).
You’ll be able to push through mental barriers and to feel comfortable when it’s very uncomfortable (for example, you were knocked down, but you’re getting back on your feet and surviving until the end of the round).
Will Yoga For Muay Thai Create A Stronger Fighter With Greater Pain Tolerance?
I’ve seen so many girls doing a handstand with ease, and I was always wondering why I can’t do it. I train regularly, eat healthily, and am not fat, but they do so many different poses despite their bodies being not as strong as mine. Why?
Well, they have better control of their bodies. For example, returning on your feet from a handstand slowly demands an impressive amount of strength in all areas of your body, plus the brain must control your movement perfectly.
So yeah, yoga is going to help you activate muscles that have never worked before. Have you ever heard of body rotators or transverse abdominal muscles?
Hip flexors, adductors, even rib muscles are important. Oh, do I have to say that the levator scapulae muscle is critical when you defend high kicks and violent barrages of fists to the head?
Next time, when somebody says that yoga for Muay Thai is useless, just ask him how he defends his head against an aggressive opponent. I’d like to hear his answer. The yoga instructor will push all areas of your body on fire. Next time, when you eat a kick to the rib, small, hidden muscles of your body might contract and protect your ribs from fractures.
Yoga for Muay Thai has always been a controversial topic. In the 20th century, the majority of fans believed it was a female discipline that has nothing to do with Muay Thai success. But the sport is evolving because we’re living in a century of innovations. Traditional points of view are not so popular anymore.
I believe good, high-quality yoga sessions can push your game to the next level and turn you into a fabulous Muay Thai warrior, ready for great success. There are so many great benefits, just try it out. What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with me or not?