Workouts · Apr 25, 2022
6 Powerful Benefits of Yoga for Boxers
While yoga and boxing might seem like polar opposites, they're actually far more complementary than you might realize. A yoga practice builds strength, flexibility, balance, and body awareness—skills that directly translate to the boxing ring.
In many ways, their differences are what make them such a powerful duo. For example, while boxing shortens or contracts your muscles, yoga relaxes and lengthens your muscles. This combo supports healthier muscle growth so you can keep punching and getting stronger while avoiding injury along the way.
These yoga benefits are why some boxing pros—like Shawn Porter and Floyd Mayweather—swear by their yoga practice. Without it, you limit your full potential in the ring if you focus on strength without mobility, power without balance, and physical health without mental focus.
Benefits of Yoga for Boxers
1. Builds strength
While it might not look like a strength workout, flowing from one yoga pose to the next—and sometimes holding those poses for several minutes!—can be challenging for your muscles. Unlike lifting weights, which targets specific muscle groups, yoga requires full-body balance along with muscular control to enter into and hold a pose.
In yoga, you’re often working against gravity and the weight of your own body. This helps tone and strengthen your muscles without the use of any extra equipment. As any new yogi quickly learns, even the most beginner-level poses are deceptively challenging, often requiring full use of the core, arms, back, and legs.
Even downward dog, which is a resting pose, employs almost every muscle in your body. It builds strength in your shoulders, back, and wrists while challenging your hamstring, glute, and hip flexibility.
This full-body challenge is what makes yoga such a great complement to sports like boxing. You’re building strength while using muscles that are easily overlooked or hard to train in the weight room. Not to mention, a lot of these poses need incredible core strength, which leads to more power behind your punches.
2. Improves your mobility
With yoga each movement increases the flexibility or length of your muscles. The more flexible your muscles, the more capacity they have to support heavier loads and generate more power.
Unlike passive stretching, which only improves your flexibility, moving through a yoga practice improves your mobility as well. While flexibility is how far you can stretch a muscle, mobility is how well you can control that flexibility. For example, in yoga, this might look like pushing the outer limit of your hamstring flexibility while maintaining balance and strength in a given pose.
It’s helpful to think about your muscles like a slingshot. On a slingshot, the farther the rubber band can stretch, while still maintaining control and strength, the farther you can catapult the object. The tighter the band, the harder it will be to generate force. The same goes for throwing a punch in boxing.
The more yoga you practice, the more you lengthen and strengthen those muscles you’re using in the ring. This improves your range of motion and gives you more control over your movement.
3. Generates better balance and body awareness
In yoga, you’re constantly challenging your body awareness and positioning as you move from pose to pose. You have to find balance as you change your center of gravity by standing on one leg, leaning forward, or outstretching an arm. Try maintaining tree pose or holding half-moon pose for a few breaths and you’ll quickly get a feel for the balance challenge that yoga offers.
Learning how to stay balanced and aware of your body positioning directly applies to boxing. If you’re in the ring with another fighter, you want to stay light on your feet no matter what punches your opponent throws. If you’re working out with Litesport, staying balanced will help you keep in time to the beat or nail all the combos our Trainers throw your way.
The more aware you are of your center of gravity and the adjustments you need to make in your body to stay balanced, the more you’ll be able to react with efficiency and speed.
4. Helps prevent injury
The strength, mobility, and balance challenge of yoga also offers injury-prevention benefits. With more full-body strength, you’re less likely to overcompensate with incorrect movement patterns. With more mobility, you’re less likely to push your muscles beyond what they’re capable of doing. And with more balance, you’re less likely to fall or lose your footing in the ring.
Taking time to stretch, restore, and recover by practicing yoga helps you step back into the ring with muscles that are recharged and ready to perform. Throughout your boxing workout, you’re contracting or tightening your muscles to generate force. Yoga has the opposite effect. It relaxes or creates more space in the muscle tissue, helping to ease soreness or stiffness.
For example, by taking one of our restorative yoga classes, you can cool down and recover from a high-intensity Litesport workout. This helps renew your body’s power, strength, and energy so you’re ready to come back for another Punch Track or Trainer Class.
5. Creates intentional breathing habits
While we often associate yoga with crazy, upside-down yoga poses it’s actually breathing that’s at the heart and center of yoga. The poses, called asana, are only one small part of the yoga practice. The ability to breathe with intention, even if you’re moving through difficult poses, is an important skill needed for both yoga and boxing.
That’s because in boxing you need to breathe not only to provide your body with energy-giving oxygen, but also to help deliver power behind your punch. As you punch you want to forcefully exhale. This helps release energy from your body that then travels down your arm and out through your fists.
When you hold your breath, you’re depriving your body of energy and power. It’s normal to find yourself doing this because learning how to keep breathing through an endurance challenge like boxing is hard. With yoga, you can help practice this intentional breathing technique as you inhale and exhale through every pose.
6. Calms the mind and gets you “in the flow”
Breathing not only provides oxygen and power to your punches, but it also helps lower your heart rate, calm the mind, and reduce stress. By focusing on your breathing through a regular yoga practice you can help clear the thoughts running through your head and learn how to center yourself in the moment.
When you’re centered, calm, and not letting stress take the wheel, it improves all aspects of your life. It makes it easier to push pain or stress to the side and focus on the task at hand, whether that’s a yoga pose, a boxing combo, or a work situation like a big meeting or presentation.
In boxing, focusing on your breathing and calming the mind helps get you “in the flow” of your boxing combos. Being in the flow allows you to focus on your Trainer’s instruction and the flashing lights of your Litesport instead of letting a stressful day or a long to-do list get in the way of your workout.
Here’s former professional boxer Shawn Porter talking about what yoga does for his mental game:
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