Mixed martial arts (MMA) yoga

Published on November 18, 2011 by      Print
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 By Christine Schaefer

I am on hiatus from my yoga class per doctor’s orders because I blew out my hip.

When the accident first happened I could not walk, which for me was a first.  And, apparently, continuing to take hot yoga would make it impossible for me to heal. For the 12 hours that I allowed myself to rehab on the couch, I hatched mind monsters in the form of “Will I get fat?,” “How will I stay calm and even?,”  “What about what I want?,” ”Stupid hole in the park that I was too busy to see ‘cause I was listening to my IPod!,” and, “Woe is me, why did I have to get hurt now?”  As if anyone wants to get hurt, well, ever.

My biggest fear, however, was not being able to identify myself as a “yogi,” marked by logging insane hours at the studio and practicing the same 26 poses that no doubt melted my hips. I’d been dutifully punching the yogic time card, as if in doing so I would be magically poofed with enlightenment.

My favorite part of that menagerie of ridiculousness was that in my head I thought that because I was so “flexible,” seemingly in both body and mind, that this injury could have been avoided.

I shared this revelation with my orthopedic surgeon. He was amused.  “There is such thing as too much of anything, especially when it is done with repetition,” he told me.  “We call these overuse injuries, and I know that in your RN program you will go over this.”  He was half-joking / half-chiding, because before him sat a yoga addict in need of a detox that didn’t come in the form of a ten dollar green juice after class.

On the drive home, fortified with a shot of painkillers in my ass, (God Bless Western medicine and a marriage to the badge), I had to chuckle. I realized that I had snapped like a rubber band, because when I did anything, I attacked it, full force.  Yoga was no different. My yoga literally looked like MMA, because that is who I am, at heart:  a scrappy, fight club kind of gal.  I had been traipsing off to yoga five days a week, and for the majority of that time I was in it to hit the mats.  I took “warrior” pose to a new level!  Was it possible that I was in the wrong place entirely? Perhaps….

In reflection, I have no doubt that I have learned so much from yoga, the greatest thing being that it is OK to back off for a while.  And now I hit the mats in the form of kickboxing. (Because this girl has got to throw down at least twice a week to stay on an even keel.) I supplement my newly found yoga/mixed martial arts practice with an asana class where I truly stop to breathe, to listen, and make peace with the fact that I’m both a lover and a fighter.

About Christine Caira Schaefer

Christine Caira Schaefer is a happy wife and mom who lives in the suburban Boston area. When she isn’t chasing her pre-teen kids around, writing for her blog, cutting her clients’ hair, or trying her damndest to get into the clinical rotations that ALL nursing school candidates need, she enjoys working out, volunteering at her kids school, and decorating her home. While she doesn’t feel insane enough for a 7-day-a-week hot yoga practice, she arguably sees why it could be easier to check out and hit the mat while allowing her husband to man her tribe. More about Christine.

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11 Comments !

  1. Matthew says:


    Interesting piece! You know, I tore my calf muscle in May and had to quit yoga until about two weeks ago. I picked up kettle bells and krav maga to pull up the slack.

  2. Jenifer says:


    Yup! Repetitive motion injuries from yoga are real. Weaknesses can develop as well. The common cause IS repetitive misalignment and overreaching in misalignment. It might also be from the exact same sequence, and what it values or is working on, leading to specific imbalances, and if practiced misaligned. . . well, there you go.

    Likewise, it is not the panacea for everything. It can facilitate with a lot of levels of healing, but sometimes a compadre is necessary. It’s why I wanted a holistic health studio, not just a yoga studio. I have physiotherapists, acupuncturists, energy healers, massage therapists, personal trainers, and a whole lot of other modalities that can come to work for a given student, helping facilitate.

    And with this, I encourage that yoga be part of life, not Life itself. Most of my clients have some athletic endeavor that they are serious about — dance, roller derby, cycling, running, soccer, hiking, whatever. Yoga helps them with the tightnesses and weaknesses that develop around that. Other students of mine are every-day workers and folks who would describe themselves as “unfit” — who then find that the new fitness that yoga is opening for them, leads to excitement and the desire to try other new forms of movement.

    Personally, that’s what I think it’s for. This “yoga is all you need” statement is sad to me, you know? Manipulative towards some. And so I say “yoga is all you need, but it may not be all that you want.”

    And goodness, I hope it isn’t all that someone wants. :)

    • Chrissy says:


      Jenifer,
      You just about summed up y entire learning process…I have learned to be one with my slightly aggressive need to punch bags…and yoga makes me limber enough to do so…for me yoga was not and will never be my X factor….that being said, it is a wonderful modality in terms of healing both the body and mind provided it is combined with other things…the biggest thing being a healthy dose of normalcy….because I must point out that there are far less whack jobs in my MMA class….

  3. Warriorsaint says:


    Hey Christine you sound like the perfect match from Budokon which combines yoga with moves from both asia martial arts and capoeira. Lots of focus on alignment in the moves which really cuts done on the injury factor. I came to yoga from capoeira so it was a marriage made in heaven for me.

    p.s. good luck with the nursing classes. I have been a nurse for many years. ALL nursing programs make you jump through hoops to get your clinicals in. It’s a form of boot camp. Hard field but so rewarding.

    • Chrissy says:


      Thanks so much! I will check out Budokon!
      And thanks also for the well wishes…*sigh* this nursing thing has been such a worthy road…I may like to throw down and scrap, but am a sap at heart….I love caring for others and am thrilled to be entering such a well staffed field! Cheers to you! <3

  4. Vision_Quest2 says:


    I avoid most of that, since I practice a yoga pilates fusion practice all the time …

    Still, something was missing in my off days, and since I am a slow walker (I have bad feet) walking became boring; so I now do 5 Rhythms trance dance as well as the fusion …

    Sometimes there can’t be too much of a good thing, except when there can …

    • Chrissy says:


      Good for you for mixing it up! I need to do that as well, so I am adding some kettle bells… I will always love my yoga practice, however melting my hips is not such a good thing for me, as they are just so wiggly and way too open after housing and birthing my team ( which is and will always be my greatest achievement yet). My issue? I push it a little hard from time to time, so learning to back off has been a huge lesson for me, one that I will have to revisit time and again :)

  5. rachel says:


    i am a yoga instructor and practitioner and i love kickboxing. oddly, for me they are different sides of the same coin. both allow me to become so wrapped up in what i am doing in the present moment that i can just be. yoga in a quiet way and kb in a loud way. i think that what it most ties into is a sense of balance between opposites… of stillness and movement, of loud and quiet. but i think it is from yoga that i have grown to recognize and appreciate and value this balance. and that is why i do both. i think there is no one key that turns every lock. best wishes to you.

    • Chrissy says:


      Rachel!
      I could not agree more! So many people see kick boxing as aggressive….it really is not! I love being able to hit the mats and burn burn burn….it is not a fight, it is a practice…much like yoga!

  6. Mixed martial arts (MMA) yoga. ~ Christine Schaefer | elephant journal says:


    [...] arts (MMA) yoga. ~ Christine Schaefer  Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on November 18, 2011.  [...]


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