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Yoga: A Tradition with the Martial Arts

by Christopher Bashaw

When someone mentions yoga the thought of sculptured bodies in sexy workout clothes, bent in impossible contortions enters the mind. And for most of this we see an unrealistic personal illusion of “us versus them” clearly in our minds eye.

With an estimated 64% of adult population in the United States either overweight or obese, (a percentage that has increased over the last four decades,) fitness and wellness is more on the minds of Americans then ever before. But is yoga just a sport of the fit and upper class?

Or is yoga really a lifestyle of ancient beliefs and traditions that we all can participate in? In order to become fit and healthy one must understand yoga is the latter; a practice which originally was part of the original Asian martial systems of which our lineages are traced. Yoga is an ancient system of breathing practices, physical exercises and postures, as well as meditation intended to integrate the practitioner's body, mind, and spirit. It originated in India several thousand years ago, and a scholar named Patanjali in the second century B.C first wrote down its principles. The word yoga comes from a Sanskrit word, yukti meaning "union" or "yoke." This union or yoking is to pull together in harmony the body, mind, and the spirit.

Here in the West, however, yoga is more often considered as a highly useful form of physical exercise more than as a philosophy or total way of life. As of 2002, more than six million people in the United States were practicing some form of yoga, with 1.7 million claiming to practice it regularly.

There are a number of different styles of yoga taught in the United States, the best known being of Hatha yoga, and the Iyengar system. One can easily google yoga and see that there are as many different certifications and systems in yoga as there are martial arts. Positive results of yoga practice are improved posture, lowered blood pressure, increased flexibility in the joints, higher energy levels, and a sense of relaxation. When a martial artists adds yoga to his or her practice, no matter which system, a true harmonious union and benefit is created.

Within the Kosho Hoho Yooga (KHY) © system of Martial Arts, Shugendo Yoga © is part of its curriculum. This deeply spiritual and healing yoga can be practiced as a separate entity or as an integrated aspect of one’s martial training. Practitioners of Shugendo Yoga © note increased energy within themselves, increased chi flow for healing and martial application, as well as increased understanding of the esoteric nature of chi and metaphysics as practiced by the ancient sohei and shinobi. Through the practice of yoga students work their inner core developing Universal morality, personal observances, improved body postures, breathing exercises and control of life-force energy, control of the physical and metaphysical senses, concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness, meditation on the Divine, and lastly union with the Divine.

The benefits of the martial arts student integrating yoga into their practice, regardless of style, system or ability will advance their path to their personal journey. So, start your journey today by researching which yoga styles and systems appeal to you and find a guru or teacher to help you maximize your martial arts through yoga.

Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Bashaw, RN, PhD/MA, RMT, CNFT, Soke of KHY can be contacted via his website at www.freewebs.com/mizu_tama_dojo or master_tenbu@yahoo.com in reguards to KHY ©, Shugendo Yoga ©, Warrior Tantra ©, Koshonic Body Stress Release ©, or Kokoro Ryu Reiki ©. Shugendo Yoga © is supported and recognized by the World Yoga Hall of Fame © www.wyhof.org .

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