Yoga increases flexibility, improves balance, builds strength, regulates breathing, and calms the mind. Yoga is now making its way into the boxing ring as more professional fighters are taking their workouts to the mat--but this time, the yoga mat. Adding yoga to your boxing/kickboxing training can level up your fighting abilities while helping decrease the risk of injury.
Here are ten (10) yoga poses for boxers and kickboxers that are great before and after hitting the bag--plus how they can strengthen and benefit your boxing training.
None of these poses should cause any pain or discomfort. If you do experience pain at any time, slowly exit the pose and move on.
10 Yoga Poses For Boxers and Kickboxers
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Begin on your hands and knees
Tuck your toes and lift your hips
Place your feet hip-width apart or wider with your toes pointed straight ahead
As your heels descend to the floor, work your legs toward straight, press your thighs back, and engage your quadriceps
If your spine starts to round, keep a slight bend in your knees
Lift your sits bones toward the sky and lengthen your back and sides
Your hands should be shoulder-distance apart with your index fingers pointing straight ahead and your fingers spread out wide
Press down through the base of your thumb and index finger, reducing any weight in your wrists
Straighten your arms, draw your forearms in, and lift away from the mat
Rotate your upper arms out and slide your shoulders down your back
Keep your neck long and align your ears between your upper arms
Gaze toward your belly button
Draw your shoulders away from your ears, press your hips up and back, and keep your back from rounding
Continue to breathe and hold for 20 seconds
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Begin in Downward Facing Dog
Step one foot forward and stack your front knee directly above your front ankle
Place your back knee down on the mat and slide your knee back so it is behind your sits bone
Draw your chest forward and broaden your collarbones, interlace your fingers on your front knee, and straighten your arms to lift your chest
Drop your tailbone down, lift your lower belly up to draw your hips toward your face, and lift your pelvis off of your front thigh
Sweep your arms overhead and bring your biceps by your ears
Reach up through the sides of your waist
Gaze directly ahead or up toward your thumbs
Hold for 20 seconds
Repeat on the other side
Modification: If you have any knee pain, you may place a folded blanket or towel underneath your knee for support.
Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
Strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, and obliques while improving balance.
Start in plank pose and step your feet together
Spin to the outside edge of one foot and stack your other foot directly on top of it with your feet flexed
Stack your bottom wrist directly under your bottom shoulder
Extend your top arm up and create a long line from your fingertips down through your bottom wrist
Draw your shoulder blades apart and reach your arms away from each other
Press into the floor with your bottom hand
Draw your front ribs down and your belly towards your spine
Lengthen your tailbone towards your heels
Stack your top hip directly above your bottom hip and make sure to avoid any backbend
Gaze up towards your top thumb
Hold for 15-30 seconds
Repeat on the other side
Modification: If you have wrist, shoulder, or elbow injuries or pain, you can place your bottom knee on the mat directly under your bottom hip or rest your bottom forearm on the mat.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Stretches and strengthens the abdominals and lower back muscles.
Start on your stomach, extend your legs out behind you, and press the tops of your feet into the floor
Engage your quadriceps and continue to press the tops of your feet into the floor
Place your hands by your lower ribs and align your wrists underneath your elbows
Hug your elbows into your sides, roll your shoulders down your back, and lift your chest
Spread through your collarbones
Soften your glutes and gaze ahead, lengthen the back of your neck, and keep your spine long
Hold for 10 seconds
Slowly release down to the mat
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Strengthens and stretches the upper and lower back, chest, arms, and legs.
Lay flat on your stomach
Extend your arms down by your sides, palms facing upwards, and stretch your fingertips toward the back of the mat
Roll your shoulders back, expanding your collarbones, and lift your chest
Lift your legs together and press your pubic bone down towards the floor, lengthening your tailbone towards your heels
Feel the extension from the top of your head, through your body, and down to your feet
Relax your glutes
Hold for two (2) deep breaths
Relax your body and repeat three (3) times
For an added challenge, you can extend your arms out straight in front of you.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Stretches the chest, neck, shoulders, and back while strengthening the glutes.
Begin on your back and place the soles of your feet on the floor, hip-width apart
Point your toes ahead--the outside edges of your feet should be parallel to the edges of your mat
Press into your feet and lift your hips
Interlace your hands under your back and press your upper arms, forearms, and outer wrists into the floor
If your shoulders are tight and you are unable to press your upper arms down, keep your arms down by your sides instead
Keep your knees forward and parallel, feel the squeeze in your glutes, and lengthen your tailbone towards your heels
Draw your shoulders under your chest and lift your shoulder blades out through your heart
Gaze toward the sky and be sure not to turn your neck
Hold for 20 seconds
Slowly lower back down to the mat
Cow Face Pose (Gomukasana)
Stretches the shoulders and hips.
Start on all fours and cross one knee in front of the other
Lean forward and draw your inner thighs toward each other
Spread your feet wider than your hips
Sit your hips between your heels and press the tops of your feet into the floor
Your feet should point toward the back of the mat
Press down through your sits bones, lift both sides of your waist, and draw your ribs down
Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling and keep your chin parallel to the floor
Release your shoulders down your back
Lift one arm overhead, bend at your elbow, and lower your hand so it rests between your shoulder blades
Bring your opposite arm behind you and spin your palm to face the back of the room
Bend at your elbow and reach for your top hand
Grasp your fingers and hold
Press the back of your head into your top forearm and elbow as your shoulder moves back and down
Keep your gaze ahead and hold for 15-30 seconds
Repeat on the other side
Modifications: If you have hip, knee, or lower back pain, place a block or folded blanket under the sits bones for support and lift. If you have tight shoulders, you may use a strap between your hands if you are unable to connect your fingers.
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Stretches the abdominal, neck, and back muscles.
Begin on all fours and press your hands into the ground
Round your back towards the sky and lift the sides of your waist away from the floor
Draw your lower belly toward your spine and tuck your tailbone under
Keep the sides of your neck long and allow your head to hang towards the floor
Spread your shoulder blades apart
Hold for 15 seconds
Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
Stretches the abdominal, neck, and back muscles
Begin on all fours with your wrists underneath your shoulders, your knees underneath your hips, and the tops of your feet pressed against the mat
Press down through your palms and simultaneously lift your chest and your tailbone toward the sky
Draw down through your shoulder blades and slide your shoulders down your back
As your stomach draws down toward the floor, gaze up and keep your spine long
Hold for 15 seconds
Variation: For an added stretch variation and flow, you can cycle through Cat Pose and Cow Pose, rhythmically with your breath.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Stretches lower back, thighs, shoulders, and arms.
From a kneeling position, bring your big toes together and spread your knees out wider than your torso
Fold forward from the crease of your hips and place your forehead on the floor
Place your arms by your sides or extend them out forward with your palms facing down
Drop your hips back toward your heels
Close your eyes and continue to inhale and exhale deeply
Hold this pose for as long as you’d like
One of the wonderful things about yoga is that you can use any of the poses whenever you feel the need for a more complete stretch, not just as a warm-up or cool down. Remember to pay attention to your breathing and to your body. Yoga is just as much about the mind as the body. Achieving an acute level of focus, physical control, and self-awareness is an absolute asset in boxing and kickboxing training. Yoga is the perfect way to better understand how mindful movement can benefit any sport - and your overall well being!
For more tips and boxing training inspiration, check out our YouTube Channel and the other articles on our blog. Remember, even the toughest fighters incorporate balance and flexibility exercises in their workout routines!
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