Contributed by SYU L1 Student Lance Gorman
In the Beginning
Combat and war have been around since the beginning of time. It’s something that was necessary in times of war, and has flourished even more in times of peace. I for one, have practiced martial arts since my very early childhood until present day, very consistently and very rigorously.
Needless to say, combatives over a twenty year period can be very taxing on the body. However, most martial art styles have their own system of balancing this out with stretching and…well, stretching.
At 21, even though I was in amazing shape and felt great as well, I didn’t know that my training and my body were missing a crucial element. With a back injury at age 16, I never thought I’d gain my flexibility and dexterity back, although I could kick over most people’s head so it didn’t concern me too much. Little did I know that years later, I would find yoga.
Stumbling Upon Balance
One day after teaching a class, one of the students, an elderly woman, asked me to stay after to take the yoga class, I really didn’t want to, but I stayed because it was something I didn’t want to do. Plus, on the flip side, I thought to myself, “Could it hurt you to be more flexible?”
My first yoga class was quite the revelation. With a series of standing extensions and holds mixed with a some grounded postures, I visited another world of fitness. I initially said to her with excitement, “This was the first time that I’ve ever felt my body breathe!” It felt as though a euphoric sensation was pulsing through my muscles, breathing life energy into my entire being.
Twice a week, I kept up my yoga practice after my martial arts class, at first I noticed that all of my injuries slowly begin to dissipate and become significantly less frequent. After a few weeks, I noticed more than just pain relief and flexibility.
Not only did my body feel amazing, with all of my previous injuries feeling like they were being treated, but my techniques in Martial arts were grew stronger, faster and more dynamic. Stronger!?
My strikes (punches and kicks) felt more snappy, similar to brand new rubber band bullets for the fingers. We’ve all had that old rubber band that’s snapped on us and hit us in the face! Not cool. Neither are injuries.
Physical strength is great to have, but internal strength is immeasurable. I have strong morals because of martial arts and my family, but I think yoga has given me a balanced view on other aspects of life and I feel more philosophical epiphanies take hold now when learning to quiet the mind. Less is sometimes more.
“..to master people takes force,
but to master yourself takes strength.”
I often compare my yoga practice to regularly oiling my car. It’s the preventative measures that keep the engine running smoothly. With a consistent practice, not only will yoga help to balance and strengthen the physical aspects of life, but also the psychological and even emotional areas of which can greatly be ignored at times.
Yoga has definitely been the Yin to my Yang when it comes to my passions in life and I feel as though I’m starting to find my balance.