Yoga for Martial Artists is our highlighted sport this week. Enter Stephane…
Stephane is a martial artist who specialises in judo, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Formerly a professional fighter, Stephane now shares his expertise as a coach and teacher in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
“For me, martial practice is about achieving a strong, flexible body and living a healthy life. It’s about learning to think well and experience gratitude for life. I want to continue to improve my skills so that I’m able to adapt to and face any situation—in a fight or in life.”Stephane Birnbaum
YOGA FOR MARTIAL ARTISTS: TIMING AND POSE SELECTION
Stephane regularly practices yoga as part of his training, to stay strong and supple. He shares with us his favourite poses for waking up, warming up and finding focus.
How important is yoga for martial artists?
Stretching helps me to keep my joints well-aligned and in good health. This is something that I really need as I’ve had a few shoulder and hip injuries in the past.
What are your go-to morning yoga poses?
I like to stretch my back in the morning with some Seated Forward Bends to start my day with good posture and my back and legs relaxed. These poses also help to circulate blood flow after a night’s sleep.
Do you have a warm-up sequence before training?
I practice Standing Wide-Leg Forward Bend Twists to warm up my abs and obliques and Runners Lunge for my hip flexors. Activating my core and hips is crucial if I’m going to train kicks.
Is there a yoga pose you practice after your martial arts training?
I practice front splits after a training session, while my muscles are still warm, to maintain good elasticity in my legs.
How do breathing and meditation inform your training as a martial artist?
Breathing and meditating exercises are everything to me. I can practice them whenever I want, wherever I am. They help to keep my mind calm and my emotions quiet. It’s really important when you practice martial arts to stay focused.
The masters say that all battles are won or lost within yourself.
5 MOST EFFECTIVE YOGA POSES FOR FIGHTERS
We caught up with Stephane in San Miguel de Allende, to learn his five favourite yoga poses for martial artists that he practices every day. These postures tune him into his body, keep his muscles strong and supple and prepare him for training and for life.
1. SEATED FORWARD BEND
2. SEATED WIDE-LEG FORWARD BEND
Seated Forward Bends stretch the ankles, calves, hamstrings, groin, lower and upper back. Hold for 3-5 breaths to improve flexibility and stimulate blood flow.
3. STANDING WIDE-LEG FORWARD BEND TWISTS
4. RUNNERS LUNGE
Sitting in Thunderbolt with your back straight, arms and shoulders soft, is great for practising breathing and meditation techniques. Stay for a few minutes, following the rise and fall of your breath.
YOGA FOR MARTIAL ARTISTS
If you’re a subscriber, we have a Yoga for Fighters program that you can follow. These videos mobilise and align the joints, activate the core and glutes, train coordination and advanced movement patterns, improve balance and proprioception, release deeply-held tension, open up the hips and support your recovery so that you’re prepared for anything and everything that life and training throws at you.
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