Yoga for Boxing Cross-Training
Boxing is a deceptively difficult sport. At first glance, boxing looks like it entails merely moving around and throwing punches. Quite the contrary! Boxing requires absolute control of the body, mind, breath, emotions, and surrounding atmosphere. It demands deep concentration, excellent mind-body coordination, and exceptional physical and cardiovascular strength.
You know what else is an underrated sport? Yoga. And surprisingly, it has A LOT in common with boxing. Similar to the irony of professional footballer players benefiting from ballet, yoga can greatly complement boxing cross training.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at both boxing and yoga, and how they may be a match made in the ring.
Benefits of Yoga for Boxers
Boxing certainly isn’t a low-key sport. It doesn’t inspire thoughts of calming nature sounds, still waters, or a serene atmosphere. However, boxers may need a little bit of that.
While boxing seems purely physical on the outside, it requires a great deal of mental and emotional strength. Yoga’s tranquil nature and focus on the inner self makes for a great complement to a boxer's training routine.
Not only is yoga great for the mind, but it improves many components of athleticism that are essential to sports performance. Let’s check out how it can benefit you in the ring.
It’s no surprise that yogis are flexible. Much of yoga requires holding the body in extreme stretching poses. Over a period of time, this enables the muscle fibers to loosen up and elongate.
As a boxer, you need that extra flexibility. Intense boxing cross-training tends to bulk up and stiffen the muscles, making them more prone to injury. The flexibility you gain through yoga can improve your range of motion, which is critical in the ring. It will help you to dodge your opponent, throw stronger punches, and prevent injuries. Yoga’s twisting poses can also help you to improve your twisting range of motion, making for higher and more accurate hooks.
I bet you're wondering, “Can’t I just stretch.?” Sure you can, but static stretching simply doesn’t produce the same results as dynamic stretching or yoga.
If you're a boxer, you know how important balance is in a fight. Balance helps you to stay on your feet, move around the ring, and dodge punches, all without falling over!
Many yoga poses don’t just require flexibility, but exceptional balance as well. Balancing poses will help you to improve your concentration and body awareness. To remain balanced, you’ll need to learn how to make the right adjustments to your body.
Unique balance poses used in yoga also encourage core strength. They work the abdominals, the inner core muscles, the obliques, and the deep pelvic floor muscles. A strong core enables you to be more nimble on your feet and promotes better balance and coordination.
Yogis may not have bulky muscles like bodybuilders, but they certainly aren’t weak. In fact, yoga is an excellent complement to a boxer's strength training routine. The strenuous bodyweight poses held in yoga will get you working muscles that conventional strength training doesn’t. Combine both yoga bodyweight conditioning with conventional strength training, and you’ll be unstoppable in the ring.
Your breathing patterns might not seem like they matter in the middle of a fight, but your breath has a profound impact on your performance.
During intense physical activity, most people breathe just enough to stay alive. Yogic breathing, however, focuses on long, deep breaths throughout each movement. Once you’ve got your breath under control, your heart rate slows, your body relaxes, and your mind becomes more clear and able to make quick decisions.
By focusing on the breath, on the movement, and on your body in space, yoga teaches you to be present in the moment. Carrying that mindfulness into the ring improves intuition, heightens your awareness of yourself and your surroundings, and helps you to control your mental and emotional state.
Easy Yoga Poses for Boxers
Have we convinced you to try out yoga yet? Great!
Gloveworx coach Chris Camacho, an athlete of many talents, has put together some simple yoga exercises. These poses can be done right at home to build your core, improve your balance, gain flexibility, and become your best in the ring.
Crescent Lunge with Airplane Arms to Warrior Three
How to Perform Crescent Lunge to Warrior III:
Start by standing upright with arms by your sides and feet hip distance apart. Step your left foot back into a lunge position, keeping the back leg straight, but not hyperextended. It is important that your right knee stay directly above your ankle and the that thigh as parallel to the ground as possible.
Reach your arms down and back, palms facing inward. Gaze towards the ground to keep a straight line through your spine. Stay here for 30-60 seconds.
In a slow and controlled fashion, shift your weight to the right leg and lift your back leg skyward until parallel with your torso. At the same time, you will swoop your hands forward to create a straight line from your fingertips to your feet. Your palms should continue to face each other and your spine remain neutral. Continue to gaze at a fixed location on the ground, this will help you maintain your balance. Stay here for 30-60 seconds.
Inhale as you return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
How to Perform Camel Pose:
Kneel on the floor with knees hip distance apart. Rotate your thighs inward.
Place your hands on the back of your pelvis, fingers facing downward.
Lean back with your chin slightly tucked in toward your chest. If you are a beginner, stay here.
If you feel comfortable here, lean back further and reach your hands down and back (as pictured), holding onto your heels. Fingers should be facing down towards your toes. Keep your head in a neutral position, or, if you feel comfortable, allow it to drop back.
Continue to lift through your pelvis and keep the spine long. Hold for 30-60 seconds, or for five breaths.
Chair Pose to Chair Pose Twist
How to Perform Chair to Chair Twist Pose:
Begin by standing upright with hands by your side and feet together. If you are a beginner, you can start with your feet hip-width apart.
Inhale and raise your arms overhead, then exhale and bend your knees, keeping your weight in your heels. Get your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. This is Chair Pose.
Inhale as you lower your arms toward your chest in prayer position.
Begin twisting toward the right by pressing your upper left arm against your right thigh. Draw your right shoulder blade back to turn your chest to the right.
Stay here for 30-60 seconds, or five breaths. Continue to lengthen the spine on each inhalation, and twist even deeper on each exhalation.
Inhale as you return to center and reach both arms overhead. Exhale to release back into the starting position. Repeat on the left side.
How to Perform Warrior Two:
Begin by standing upright, hands at your sides and feet hips-width apart.
Exhale and step your feet wide apart (about 3.5-4 feet apart).
Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, while turning your left foot slightly to the left.
Raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. On an exhalation, bend your right knee, aligning the knee directly over the right ankle. Sink your hips low, bringing your right thigh as parallel to the floor as possible while keeping your bend at 90 degrees.
Hold for 30-60 minutes, or five breaths.
Inhale to release and come back to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Extended Side Angle Pose
How to Perform Extended Side Angle Pose:
Begin by standing upright with hands by your side and feet hips distance apart. Step your feet wide apart (about 3.5-4 feet).
Raise your arms out to the side at shoulder height with palms facing down.
Turn your left foot slightly inward and turn your right foot out to 90 degrees.
Inhale and draw your left hip slightly forward, creating a slight bend in the right knee but make sure your knee does not go forward of your ankle.
Lower your right arm so that the forearm rests on your thigh.
Reach your left arm upwards towards the ceiling, then continue extending it back over your head. Turn your head and look up at the ceiling. If you are a beginner, stay here.
If you feel comfortable here, deepen the pose by lowering your right hand to the floor.
Hold or 30-60 seconds, or five breaths.
Inhale to come up. Repeat on the other side.
Do you want to improve your strength, flexibility, and overall fitness? The sessions at Gloveworx incorporate many different styles of training to help you become a balanced and well-rounded athlete!