Yoga tones the body and increases flexibility, it teaches you how to quiet the mind as well as connect your mind with your body and spirit.When it comes to de-stressing, I am the type of girl who usually reaches for her iPod, hits the heavy metal playlist, and takes off for a run or to power lift some weights. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to do more yoga. And then I got to thinking, maybe yoga isn’t really “my thing,” and that’s OK. But what else could I do to get the same mental, physical and spiritual benefits that yoga offers? And then it struck me: martial arts!
The first martial arts systems were developed in ancient Asian cultures by monks to teach self-defense as well as fighting and combat techniques. Like yoga, martial arts are physical, providing a full body workout. Both yoga and martial arts require mental discipline and incorporate meditation and encourage increased self-awareness. There are over 100 different types of martial arts originating in many different parts of the world: Brazil, China, Korea, even Europe and Israel have martial art practices. There is a type of martial arts practice for everyone and they can differ in so many ways. Some martial art practices involve dancing, such as Brazil’s Capoeira. Other practices, such as China’s T’ai Chi, incorporate meditation. And then there are those martial art practices that involve props, like Japan’s Kendo, which involves bamboo swords.
It has been proven that you can benefit physically, as well as mentally and spiritually, through martial arts. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine concluded that the Chinese martial art Qigong, which uses breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation, can lower blood pressure. Studies have also shown that practicing martial arts, like yoga, can be very beneficial for people suffering from depression and anxiety. Lower aerobic and “softer” practices such as T’ai Chi, which includes slow, repeated movements, breathing and meditation have proven to be effective for people under a lot of stress or who suffer from anxiety. Higher impact and more aggressive styles of martial arts such as Kendo have shown to help overcome depression by increasing self-esteem and boosting one’s self-confidence.
If you are looking for a new form of exercise that will benefit your mind, body and soul, then martial arts may be the change you are craving. Click here to see the many different types of martial arts there are, as well as an explanation of each of the practices.