Are you a busy mom? Or a stressed out because of your job? Or maybe just life in general is causing you anxiety. Are you getting so stressed out that it seems like you’re not accomplishing anything? If so, you can use martial arts to combat that stress! Many of the skills and techniques used in martial arts training are the same skills and techniques you can use to rid your body of stress.
So, you might be wondering how a skill that is as a fighting tool to defend yourself or hurt someone actually reduce stress…wouldn't it increase my stress and adrenaline... This common thought regarding martial arts is not inaccurate, but there is more to martial arts than what you see in the cartoons, video games and movies showing martial arts as a fighting tool. The skills necessary for training martial arts can teach you how to balance your mind and body and give you the confidence you need to face the stressful events in your life.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
One of the techniques used to create this balance is through proper breathing techniques to help you connect and control your mind and body. Breathing properly can reduce anxiety and help bring your stress down to a controllable level.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe deeply. To make sure you’re breathing deeply enough, put your hand on your stomach. If your stomach isn’t pushing out as you breath in, you’re not breathing deeply enough. Try to pull the air all the way to your navel before you let it out.
When you breathe out, keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This keeps helps minimize your saliva and swallowing.
In the Chinese way of thinking, breathing like this is completing a path: The mouth is a gate and the tongue on the roof of the mouth allows your vital energy called “Qi” or “Chi” (both pronounced “chee”) to circulate throughout your body. Chi is what helps your mind and body connect. Imagine the air as an orange light traveling up through your nose, along the top of your head, down into your Center just below your naval.
After you’ve gotten the physical aspects of breathing down, you can start counting your breaths – this is a form of meditation that many experts teach during stress management courses. Start short and work your way up.
Begin with a count of 4 as you breathe in and a count of 6 as you breathe out.
As you go along, extend the in and out until you can get a count of 6 as you breathe in and up to 24-30 as you breathe out. Just remember that you want a short, deep breath in and a slow, long breath out.
WHY DOES IT WORK?
This mind and body connection through breathing works because stress is a mental state that manifests itself as a physical symptom in your body. This physical symptom then acts as a trigger to tell you to do something about it. As you become more aware of your body, you’ll be able to notice the “trigger” before it becomes something unbearable such as a severe neck problem or a migraine headache. Once you notice your trigger, you can stop and do something about it such as practicing a breathing technique.
WHAT ELSE HELPS WITH STRESS
The breathing exercise is just one aspect of stress reduction provided by martial arts. The
other form comes in the way of
choreographed movements called Katas or Forms. Once you learn a kata you can use it to focus your mind and burn excess nervous energy from the body. Start slow with the kata and use the breathing technique as you perform the movements. Focus on the kata and skill required to perform the movements with the proper form. This takes your mind off the daily hassles and allows you to become enveloped in the movements and spirit of the kata.
START YOUR STRESS RELIEF TODAY
We all have those moments from time to time when we experience stress (some more frequently than others). The overall benefits of training martial arts for the mind and body (including self-awareness, self confidence, focus, concentration and physical conditioning) all lead to reducing that stress. You owe it to yourself to start relieving the stress in your life with the skills taught through martial arts. The best place to find these skills is at a fine martial arts school. Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.