For the past 3 weeks I have been taking a boxing class 2 nights a week. It is a non-contact, beginners class where we do hard core cardio training and learn proper boxing techniques. I was super nervous when I started this class. I am not a fighter (except with my brothers when I was younger) and I had no idea what to expect. It turns out that there is a large range of experience in the class, from people who train with the coach on a weekly basis to people like me who have never put on boxing gloves.
Now let me tell you, these guys who box a lot - who have amazing technique and have arms that look like they could crush me - are scary looking. They are tough, sometimes angry looking, whizzes on the jump rope and they look as though they are wondering what the hell I am doing in their boxing class. This, my friends, is a perfect example of how appearances can be deceiving. These guys are friendly, helpful, they give me tips and there is absolutely no judgment in class.
Hmmm, sounds like something else I do on a regular basis - Yoga! No judgment.
When I first started Bikram yoga, I felt similar to how I felt in my first boxing class. The yoga studio was
full of all these beautiful people, practicing these amazing poses, I was intimidated and unsure of myself. But everyone surprised me and I was embraced and taught by not only instructors but also by my fellow students.
Yoga and boxing are also both all about proper alignment and proper form. You don't want to go into Standing Bow with a wobbly knee and a loose arm, just like you should not throw a punch without your feet planted correctly and your gloves up by your cheekbones. And breathing! It is so very important to breathe in boxing. With every punch you exhale through your mouth, just like the final breathing exercise (Khapalbhati) where you exhale hard while pulling in your stomach.
You only get better at boxing with practice, by learning the technique, staying focused and keeping positive. I never would have thought I would be where I am today when I started my Bikram yoga practice a year and a half ago. But I got here through hard work and a consistent practice. Who knows maybe I will be boxer one day.
And the kicker? I sometimes have a hard time getting to boxing class, it's after work, it's dark out, I just want to go home and veg. But every time - by the time I'm done - I feel amazing. I feel empowered. I feel like I could take over the world. That is EXACTLY how I feel when I finish a yoga class.
I never ever would have thought that such a sport would have similarities to yoga. A sport that is aggressive and bloody and often consists of broken noses also has a calmness and a grace about it. When I walk out of boxing class I find one more thing that reminds of my yoga. It's no wonder people fall in love with boxing.