View Full Version : Aikido and Yoga

Please visit our sponsor:

04-23-2009, 03:43 PM
If this issue has been addressed before, please kindly point me in the right direction :)

I am a yoga teacher, and I am looing into pursuing Aikibudo. Does anyone have any insights into this? Any yogis or yoginis out there who have begun their Aiki training? I'm curious to find the links/connections as well as the differences between the two arts.


Ron Tisdale
04-23-2009, 03:59 PM
If you look down at the bottom of the page you will see a section which lists "similar threads". It has topics like:

Zazen necessary for training
What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?
Aikido and Yoga
aikido & yoga sutra
Aikido and pregnancy

Personally, if you are good at yoga, I think your body will be in excellent condition for aikido.

Ron (I stink at yoga worse than aikido, but I like it)

04-23-2009, 09:06 PM
Yeah, your flexibility is going to come in handy.

04-24-2009, 07:56 AM

Seems like my yoga is going to help quite a bit.


Alex Megann
04-24-2009, 09:23 AM
Hi Karen,

Welcome to aiki and the Aikiweb!

I have a feeling that the type of yoga training you have done may make a difference, as well as the emphasis of the aikibudo training you take up (actually I have to admit that I'm not really sure what "aikibudo" is!).

I am now 47, and have been training in Aikikai aikido for about thirty years now and practising yoga for twelve or thirteen years. For the first ten years or so I found the yoga helped in increasing my body awareness and in informing the stretching I do in aikido classes.

However, the biggest change in this influence happened when my teacher (who happens to be my wife) switched from an Iyengar-influenced tradition to a teacher who was a student of Vanda Scaravelli. My yoga experience isn't all that wide, but I found that the Scaravelli approach, which involves doing the poses in quite a contained way, while keeping a strong connection between the limbs and the spine, really reinforced my aikido, while the more precise but less naturally - let's say - "internal" Iyengar-type practise didn't directly resonate in the same way. Perhaps a different way to put it would be that the first way of practice stretched me out; the Scaravelli way brings me back into my centre.


04-24-2009, 09:28 AM
I agree that it really depends on the yoga, and on how you've practiced it. I've seen some feel-good-make-the-motions yoga, and I've seen yoga where the instructor really pushed people to execute the poses properly. If you've had the latter type of training, with its emphasis on form, that will be great preparation for training in any martial art.

04-24-2009, 02:59 PM
Thank you, Mary and Alex. Excellent information!

I practice Bikram Yoga. That is the "hot" style of yoga. I've been praciticing it for over ten years and teaching now for six months. The emphasis with Bikram is on building an equality between the strength and the flexibility of the body. As a teacher I encourage my students to find the balance between what their body can do flexibility wise as well as building the endurance to maintain the posture for the recommended time. The 90 minute series contains 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that are executed in the same manner every class. We do place emphasis on alignment and form, and teach the student to always follow form before depth. It can be a very cardiovascularly demanding series, and it definitely builds concentration, determination and focus. I believe it will be to my great benefit as I pursue the Aiki arts.

Alex, I definitely understand what you mean about the outward/inward balance between the different styles of yoga. I have practiced Iyengar as well. Bikram would probably also resonate with you as a more outward style of yoga. For me, however, I find that as I work my *body* outwardly, I can work my mind and spirit much more inward. Bringing the yo-ga (union) together.

Sy Labthavikul
04-24-2009, 04:03 PM
I've been studying yoga along with aikido for a couple of years, and they complement each other greatly.

I'm an avid fitness enthusiast, and the one critique I had of my aikido practice was the lack of a comprehensive conditioning regimen; sure, we had a warmup and stretching period before each class, but nothing that would really develop full body strength, active range of motion, or static flexibility that is useful for any martial art. I wouldn't be satisfied with the athleticism and fitness of a healthy guy my age; I wanted to be the guy who could sprint like the wind, run for miles if I had to, then climb a mountain and do some backbends at the top to celebrate. Basically I wanted to be Jackie Chan. :-)

I found traditional weight lifting useful for a time, but I got turned off by the use of artificial movements and isolation of muscles, since the body should be used together as a coordinated unit in my opinion. It was also very boring.

So I started yoga, beginning with the usual Hatha, but now I'm exploring Scott Sonnon's Prasara yoga, and I love it. Its like a combination of Vinyasa yoga, gymnastic bodyweight exercises, and the kind of conditioning exercises grapplers and Brazilian jujitsu players utilize; its demanding and its fun. My flexibility, both passive and (more importantly to me) kinetic, has increased dramatically (though my backbends look horrible, let me tell you), my full body coordination has improved, and my breathing has improved as well. All of this has translated into better posture in my aikido techniques, greater coordination, and controlled breathing which equals more powerful, effective techniques. The reverse breathing techniques I learned were particularly useful in directing focus and linking up the body's various fascial components.

In my opinion, yoga helped me become sensitive to my own body, how it moved efficiently, and how to coordinate it to do my bidding. Aikido does that too, to a lesser degree, but its real clout is in helping me develop a sensitivity to the movement of the outside world, usually the movement of my training partner, and how to avoid their dangerous movements while guiding those movements into advantageous positions. But you can't guide your partner if you can't control yourself; and study of coordinating yourself is enriched by the study of the kinetics of other people. They complement each other greatly, in my opinion.

Ron Tisdale
04-27-2009, 07:31 AM
Excellent post Sy, thanks!