How Yoga Helped Me Learn to Box

So some of you may know that I started boxing around June of 2017 for the first time. I was excited and nervous starting training with a trainer from my office. Anyways, I loved it from the very start and began to make it a habit to hit the gym every morning at 5:30 AM to train before work. I of course had to throw in my asana (yoga) practice in those early morning workouts.

Here are a few things on how yoga helped me with boxing:

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Being a yogi, the hardest part of the journey, is showing up to my mat and showing up for myself. With boxing, it’s an activity one must love to be great. Showing up to the boxing gym everyday became easy with the influence of yoga, despite it being dark, cold and early at 5:30 AM. Showing up allowed me to practice a lot and give it my all when I was training. For the days I knew I wasn’t having it, I listened to my body and didn’t go. But once I was back up and feelin’ myself, I was back at the gym. With that, know it’s ok to skip the gym, but if you’re feeling lazy, get your butt up and GO!

Breath to Movement
My absolute favorite style of yoga is Vinyasa Yoga. This practice involves synchronizing the breath with a continuous flow of postures – think one breath, one move. Now with throwing punches – every jab, cross, hook is linked to an exhale. On the exhale, I’m able to bring more  power into each hit. Focusing on the breath has also helped with avoiding holding my breath. Let go and just breathe.

Length
In yoga, there is the idea of lengthening to create more space in the body. The same goes in boxing for throwing punches and the length of your reach. When throwing a jab, I want to extend my arm out as much as possible instead of throwing short and find my elbows bent. Imagine one long line of energy through the arm from the shoulder socket to the knuckles. It’s important to extend the punch as much as possible to transfer the energy and power. Having a longer reach also creates distance between myself and my opponent.

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Whenever I feel tired or uncomfortable in a yoga asana (pose), I slow it down, rest in child’s pose and then get right back into it when I’m ready. Yoga has taught me to listen to my body and rest instead of continuing half-assed, therefore compromising form. Boxing can get intense and I’ve found myself in moments when I just can’t get combinations down. Instead of punching on frustrated, I take a moment to circle around the punching bag for a change in pace. Once I’m ready, I’ll get back to it – jab, cross, hook, repeat!

I know the idea of boxing and yoga is so opposite – as boxing has a sense of aggression, violence whereas yoga gives off the idea of compassion, love… but I truly believe the two complement one another as yin and yang. Yin for the feminine, softer side of yoga and yang for the masculine, harder side of boxing. Bringing the two together has brought change in my physical and mental wellbeing. I challenge myself and ask how can I push through one more round of vinyasa flows when I’m starting to feel tired and how can I ease off the the training in the gym to avoid overtraining?

I want you to think about the ways has yoga helped you off the mat – drop a line below!