Yoga for Badasses
There is a lot of discussion going on about the role of yoga in mma training. I, for one, am a huge believer in yoga so its a great topic to ponder. Let's start by comparing some of the aspects of it to those of mma training.
Stretching - one look at the photo of this guy and its hard not to equate yoga moves with grappling, shoulder locks and wrestling in general.
Focus - its one thing to bend your shoulder backwards, or have someone do it for you in the case of mma, but doing it while keeping your back, legs and neck in perfect form are quite another. This is a lot like fighting off an arm bar while maintaining leg control.
Breathing - an integral part of both yoga and mma is to fight the natural tendency to hold your breath during physical exersion. Yogi's and fighters are both trained to control breathing and preserve energy in the face of a difficult task.
Balance - once again, its difficult to understate how closely related yoga and mma are when it comes to balance. From getting maximum power in your strikes to fighting off a takedown, you'll benefit greatly from slowing it down once a week in the gym and joining the people you used to laugh at.
Mental Strength - this is probably the most important benefit that transcends these two activities. In yoga, there is no beginning or end. More importantly, there is no such thing as a loss. There is only now and being the absolute best that you can in every given moment. This mentality is what separates great fighters with stamina from those who start to drop off after taking a couple hard hits or being the victim of a long ground and pound. If a fighter believes that there is no end and that his goal is to endure and learn from every circumstance, he or she will be impossible to beat.