At first glance, martial arts and yoga seem like opposing forces and philosophies, but these two health maintenance systems have more in common than meets the eye. For a moment, consider the similarities between Tai Chi and Hatha Yoga. Within the warm-up, you notice very similar movements, philosophy and principles.
Why is the “climb the mountain” stance so similar to the Warrior I stance? Is it coincidence, luck or a common bond? Why does Kundalini have movements that resemble punching, kicking and martial arts work with the feet? Are Kung Fu Forms an Extension of Vinyasa? Each has been called moving meditation.
It is agreed that the place of origin, for most Asian martial arts, is the Shaolin Temple. Apparently, the Shaolin temple monks had become very proficient in meditation, but they had not developed a health maintenance system to sufficiently train their bodies.
In the 6th century AD, Bhoddidharma, a visiting Buddhist monk from India, began teaching monks at the Shaolin temple a form of maintaining physical health, which is believed to be yoga. Boddidharma is also said to have been a member of the warrior caste. Therefore, he should also have had practical knowledge of Kalarippayat; an indigenous indigenous martial art.
Boddidharma is said to have reached a very advanced level of meditation. The body can be trained to some degree, but the mind must also be trained. This is the cornerstone of all martial arts training. How often have we heard of the three conflicts of mind, body, and spirit?
That is why every martial arts school should promote a Yoga class. The healing aspect of Yoga is very beneficial for all martial artists, regardless of their style. Some karate and kung fu centers have incorporated yoga as part of the class schedule. The motive was to attract mothers, who were hanging around the waiting room, to pick up their children.
While there is a demand for yoga classes among women, some martial artists, both male and female, will join in to feel the healing benefits, meditate, increase flexibility, and much more. The fact is, like martial arts, there are many styles of Yoga.
Some are very physical and require a lot of stamina. Therefore, the possibilities of where the need for yoga may fit within a karate or kung fu studio are endless. After all these years, it seems that yoga and martial arts will get back together.