They say opposites attract – but few things appear more contradictory than a combination of boxing and yoga.
Yet, this fitness phenomenon is a perfect balance, with each practice complementing the other, enhancing the benefits, and giving you a comprehensive workout.
We caught up with Laura Ihatsu, a Yoga-Box teacher from Helsinki, Finland about how this surprising combo makes you mentally and physically stronger.
Image credit: Tony Torvinen
What is Yoga-Box?
Yoga-Box is a combination of yoga and boxing where you get to embody the fierce fire of a warrior and the grounded peace of a yogi. The class consists of two parts – first boxing, then yoga.
You get to embody the fierce fire of a warrior and the grounded peace of a yogi.
The boxing part is you get to release tension and stress from your mind and body and cultivate inner and outer strength. In the class, we practice and use techniques from traditional boxing to tone our bodies and break the sweat.
In the yoga part, we slow down and go within. We breathe and flow through a simple and healthy yoga practice that leaves you feeling calm and centered. During the class, we also focus on breathwork according to what we want to accomplish. Breathwork can be stimulating or calming.
How did you come up with this combination of boxing + yoga?
I’ve been teaching martial arts for more than 15 years. I love a good boxing class because it genuinely makes you feel strong and confident and helps you release stress and suppressed emotions from your system.
It can be tough to slow down until the extra energy has been released.
Then about six years ago, I got into yoga and started to teach that as well. I noticed that many people were curious about starting yoga but found it hard to slow down and be still. People spend a lot of time sitting in front of their screens, which creates tension and inner restlessness in our modern life. That’s why it can be tough to slow down until the extra energy has been released.
Through my martial arts experience, I knew that people would feel calm and open after a boxing class since they would release all their extra energy during it. So I felt like these two practices would complement each other in such a perfect way, mainly because boxing classes rarely had this calm downtime in the end.
How does yoga enhance your boxing practice? And vice versa?
Physically speaking, these two practices complement each other perfectly, and they also have a lot of similar elements, believe it or not. They both improve muscular endurance and strength, coordination, cardiovascular health, oxygen utilization, and balance but from different angles. I believe the more variety we have in the way we move, the healthier our bodies will be, and the less likely we are to get injured.
I believe the more variety we have in the way we move, the healthier our bodies will be
This combo is also great because yoga doesn’t have this cardio or high-intensity aspect, so the heart rate remains similar. Boxing brings this aspect into the game, so you get to strengthen your heart as well.
Boxing doesn’t usually have that much mobility work or other recovery practices such as breathwork or meditation, although these components are also needed for good boxing performance.
How does boxing yoga make you mentally and physically stronger?
It’s a holistic practice for both, mind and the body. Body-wise, practicing Yoga-Box improves your strength, endurance, cardiovascular health, oxygen utilization, metabolism, mobility, balance, and agility.
During a Yoga-Box class, you train your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) while boxing and your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) while doing yoga. Combining these two can result in higher heart rate variability, making you more adaptable in different life circumstances.
Boxing boosts your confidence, determination and gives you the grit to act towards your goals. In contrast, yoga helps you to cultivate patience, clarity, wisdom, and peace.
When it comes to your mind and overall wellbeing as a human, I firmly believe that movement is integral to becoming the best versions of ourselves. The way we move and hold our posture is directly linked to the quality of our emotions and thoughts. Different movement patterns trigger different hormonal responses and emotional states. When we feel strong and flexible in our bodies, we are more likely to feel strong and flexible in our minds.
I have found that boxing boosts your confidence, determination and gives you the grit to act towards your goals. In contrast, yoga helps you to cultivate patience, clarity, wisdom, and peace. Both are needed whatever we want to manifest in our lives.
Are there any particular types of people who love Yoga-Box?
This practice is excellent for those seeking more balance and holistic empowerment in their lives. You don’t have to have experience or be super fit to enjoy this class. We keep things simple, fun, and healthy while giving you a chance to push your limits in an encouraging environment.
This practice is excellent for those seeking more balance and holistic empowerment in their lives.
Yoga-Box is more about feeling and experiencing than achieving some specific results. This class is for anyone who feels the spark on their chest to try. I believe we become good at what we truly enjoy doing.
Why does it help to use heart rate during the workout?
Yoga-Box is an excellent opportunity to observe how quickly your heart rate calms down after an intense boxing workout. We build the intensity up slowly during the boxing part, having one peak experience at the end where you get to aim towards your maximal heart rate. Monitoring your heart rate is helpful so that you don’t go too hard too soon.
As you keep practicing, you will notice how your body becomes more efficient in recovery. You can also track how it affects your sleep. Many clients have reported that the amount of deep sleep they get during the night has increased after practicing Yoga-Box.
Monitoring your heart rate is helpful so that you don’t go too hard too soon.
Also, breathing is a great way to regulate the nervous system consciously. When you learn to control your breath, you can consciously direct your heart rate in the direction of your will. Before a workout, when you want to make your heart beat faster, you can do breathwork with emphasis on strong inhales.
When you want to set your body into a recovery state consciously, you should focus on lengthening your exhales. You can try this with Serene™ breathing exercise on your Polar sports watch. When you inhale, your heart rate goes up, and your heart rate goes down when you exhale. When life gives you challenges, your best friend to go through them is your deep breathing.
How can you use the heart rate data afterward?
You can track how the quality of your sleep improves over time when you practice Yoga-Box. It’s also good to monitor your resting heart rate. Yoga-Box strengthens your heart and lowers your resting heart rate, which means your recovery becomes faster and more efficient.
What’s the best way for someone new to give boxing yoga a try?
I’m currently giving classes and workshops on-demand, plus running weekly classes at the Savate Club in Sörnäinen, Helsinki. You can contact me through my Instagram or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Live elsewhere? Try Googling YogaBox or boxing yoga with your city name to find a class near you.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.