Yoga has exploded in popularity among martial artists. Big names in MMA and BJJ are so excited about it that they have been speaking up about their yoga practice. From increasing flexibility to improving strength, yoga can help you become a better martial artist. 

If you want to reap the most benefits of yoga for your martial arts, you need to understand the connection between both disciplines. In this article, you’ll learn more about how yoga can make you stronger and more flexible. Then, find out why Bikram, Yin, and Vinyasa yoga are great for martial artists. You’ll also learn about the best yoga poses for martial arts, like the dolphin pose. 

Finally, we’ll discuss how you can incorporate yoga into your martial arts practice through online classes or a yoga studio. Dust off your yoga mat and get ready to stretch your skills!

Is Yoga Good for Martial Arts?

Some sports go hand-in-hand. However, most people don’t associate yoga with martial arts. In fact, some people see the two activities as complete opposites. In reality, yoga and martial arts overlap and have quite a bit in common. That’s why so many martial artists are now practicing yoga as a way to improve their skills.

How exactly can yoga make you a better martial artist? Here are a few benefits of doing yoga:

Improve Your Mental Strength

While most people are aware of the physical benefits of yoga, they often overlook the mental benefits. And, because martial arts require a strong mind, the two activities link well. You can use yoga to have a stronger, more capable mind.

When you practice yoga, you learn how to drown out the surrounding world through meditation. You also figure out how to better focus on the tasks at hand. The next time you have a bad day and show up at the gym, you’ll be able to let go of your stress and place your energy into your training.

Increase Your Flexibility

In martial arts, flexibility can make or break you. A simple daily stretching routine can only do so much to make you flexible, and that’s where yoga comes in. With yoga, you can significantly improve your flexibility so you can kick to new heights.

More flexibility also means fewer injuries. If you use yoga to become flexible, you can increase your recovery time and reduce your risk of injuries. 

Have Better Balance

All yoga poses require you to have balance. When you start out with yoga, there are simple poses you can do to improve your balance. As you improve, the poses become more advanced and more demanding on your balance.

Balance keeps you on your feet and allows you to perform better. When you have your next round kick knockout, you can thank yoga. 

The Best Yoga for Martial Arts

Although all forms of yoga are good for martial artists, some types of yoga translate better to martial arts than others. It all depends on which benefits of yoga you’re looking for. For example, Power Vinyasa is a champion for building up strength. It’s one of the most athletic types of yoga and can leave you sweating more than your last sparring session.

Traditional Vinyasa

Traditional Vinyasa also works well for martial artists. In this style, the movement is more creative. Students focus on connecting their breath with their movements, a skill every martial artist should have. Like all forms of yoga, Vinyasa is great for flexibility.


Popular with MMA fighters, Bikram yoga is an excellent option for martial artists. Generally, Bikram yoga takes place in a room as hot as 105 degrees. Participants go through a sequence of poses as they sweat in the heat. If you need to cut weight for a weigh-in, Bikram yoga can be a fun way to do that. 

It’s worth noting that the terms “hot yoga” and “Bikram yoga” aren’t interchangeable. Rather, hot yoga is any type of yoga done in a hot room.


If focus is a pain point for you, then Yin yoga should be on your radar. It’s a slower type of yoga that involves long holds and breathwork. When you’re getting stuck in your head, Yin yoga can help. 

Build Up Your Martial Arts Skills with Yoga

Are you brand new to yoga? If so, you should start off with something simple. Hatha yoga is ideal for beginners and allows you to ease into the activity. Although Power Vinyasa and Yin are excellent for martial arts, they need higher skill levels than Hatha. 

Hatha yoga is popular with newbies for a few reasons. First, the movements are slow. You have time to learn the movements and assume the right position. Secondly, Hatha makes it easy for you to figure out how to link breathing with movement. You usually hold each pose for a few breaths. 

In the end, all types of yoga work well with martial arts. You can start off with Hatha and then try out different styles until you find one you love. People who love movement tend to enjoy Vinyasa, and then advance their way up to Power Vinyasa. 

The Best Yoga Poses for Martial Arts 

There are a few general poses that translate well to martial arts. You can add these to the start of your next workout or create your own morning yoga workout with them:

Downward Dog to Kick Out

You probably are familiar with the downward dog, as it’s a common martial arts stretch. To perform this pose, start in a downward dog. Then, lift your right arm off the mat and kick your left leg toward the right side of your body. 

Pull your elbow to your side, and return back to the downward dog. After that, it’s onto the other side. The stretch is great for both balance and stability. 

Shoulder Scorpion Stretch

With this stretch, you open your spine, shoulders, and lower back. You start out face down on the mat, and place your arms out to the side with your palms down. Keeping your legs shoulder-width apart, bend your left knee and roll onto your right side. 

Bring your left foot behind you, reaching toward your right hand. Then, return to the initial position and stretch the other side. 

Prayer Twist

To build up your core, get used to doing a prayer twist. Starting off in a high lunge with your right leg forward, lean forward. Press your palms together and twist to the right. The whole time, you should keep your left elbow in line with your right knee. For a few seconds, hold the pose. Go into a downward dog and switch sides. 

Poses for Specific Conditioning

There are some poses in yoga that are exceptional for strength building. For instance, dolphin push-ups and half-handstands build arm muscles and are strength-builders. Frog pose lifts are ideal for internal hip rotations. 

In an effort to open up your kicks with better hip rotation, you can do the boat pose to the 90/90 stretch. The lunge twist opens your hip flexors. If you’re not sure how to do any of these yoga moves, you can look up the exercises online or head to a yoga class. 

Blend Yoga with Your Martial Arts Practice

Now that you know which yoga types and poses you can use to improve your martial arts skills, you might be eager to get started. There are a few different ways in which you can do that.

Find a Gym that Combines Both

There are gyms that offer classes that connect martial arts and yoga. At some martial arts gyms, the instructors have yoga classes on the schedule. Vice versa, some yoga studios have classes geared towards martial artists.

If you do a little research, you can find a facility near you that expertly combines yoga and martial arts. This allows you to experience all of the benefits of yoga for martial arts.

Warm-Up with Yoga

If you’re not interested in taking a yoga class, you can still incorporate it into your training. Before your martial arts classes, you can do a 15-minute yoga warm-up. In fact, there are instructors who already do this.

It’s not uncommon for martial arts instructors to use dynamic warm-ups and yoga poses in their classes. If you focus a little more on those warm-up exercises, you could be on your way to leveling up. 

Go to a Yoga Studio on Off Days

You probably don’t train in martial arts seven days a week. Even if you love training, your body needs a break from the demanding martial arts workouts. The next time you have a day off from the gym, you can go to a yoga studio instead. 

Doing yoga on your off days changes your routine. It also gives your body a chance to recover. After a day of yoga, you’re likely to be refreshed and ready to train.

Join an Online Program

If you’re hoping to improve with yoga at home, look for an online program. You might join a yoga for BJJ or Muay Thai online class. Any martial arts-focused program is a great option for those who want guidance from a professional but don’t have time to go to the gym.

A quick online search will turn up multiple options for an online yoga program. Before you pick a class, do some research. Read through testimonials and make sure the program is a good fit for you. 


Successful martial artists have more than just martial skills. Yoga is quickly becoming one of those mandatory skill supplements. There are multiple ways to get started, such as joining a local yoga studio or enrolling in an online program. You could even do yoga as part of your warm-up routine.

If you pick Bikram, Vinyasa, or Yin yoga flow to practice, and stick with it over time, you’ll notice major improvements in your martial arts abilities. Poses like the prayer twist and dolphin push-ups help you become more mentally strong, flexible, and balanced. If you haven’t already, pull out your yoga mat and experience the benefits of yoga for martial arts first-hand.

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