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The Boxing Yoga Mash-Up Workout for a Fierce Body and Calm Mind

The latest hybrid workout may seem a bit of a mismatch, but if you think about it, boxing is a lot like yoga. There's a choreography to the way punch sequences fluidly string together to keep you moving. "The best fighters have a flow to their fight—it's rhythm, energy, and breath—just like yoga," says Olivia Young, founder and instructor at Box + Flow, a studio in New York City that brings the two disciplines together. That inspired pairing makes for the ultimate power couple, where each workout beautifully plays off the other's strengths. Boxing is a seriously sweaty conditioning workout and a potent way to blow off steam, yet it forces you to hunch over a bit, tightening the front of your body. Yoga, on the other hand, may be low-intensity, but it opens up your shoulders, chest, and hips and stretches your arms, releasing the front of your body, Young explains.

Do the two back-to-back, and you create this ideal balance in both your body and your mind. "Because boxing is so adrenaline-heavy, following it up with yoga forces you to gradually slow down, stretch out your muscles, and end your workout feeling calm, not hyper," says Young. Think of it as getting in your HIIT as well as out of your head, all in one deeply satisfying session. (BTW, short HIIT sessions might be better for you anyway.)

For this at-home version of Box + Flow, Young swapped in hand weights for a heavy bag. You'll hold 2-pound dumbbells for the entire boxing portion to provide similar resistance to throwing punches at the bag. "Using light weights forces you to fully extend your arm during each punch so you engage more upper-body muscles," Young says.

Your session starts with a bang: combinations of the four classic punches (jab, cross, hook, and uppercut) and two defensive moves (the slip and weave). "The energy behind every punch you throw comes from engaging your abs and rotating your hips, which is why boxing is such a great core sculptor," says Young. This shadow-boxing circuit will also spike your heart rate—and fat burn. After two rounds in the ring, you'll finish with a mini flow to stretch your body and calm your breath. (Add this 10-minute flow for extra stress relief.) That elevated post-workout feeling? It's the mix of strength and zen you get when a killer calorie-blast meets its cool-down match. 

How it works: Start with a 5-minute warm-up by doing 30 seconds each of traditional jumping jacks, crossover jumping jacks (swing arms at shoulder height, cross them in front of you and then out to sides, bring shoulder blades together to open your chest), high knees, squat hold, and forearm plank. Repeat. Then do the first four (boxing-inspired) moves as indicated. Repeat. Finish with the last four (classic yoga) exercises.

Total Time: up to 45 minutes

You will need: Free weights, Mat

1. Jab-Cross

A.

Stand in fighting stance with feet staggered left in front of right (or nondominant foot forward) and fists by chin holding weights. Forcefully quick-snap a punch with left (or nondominant) hand straight forward at shoulder height, turning hips forward slightly and rotating fist palm-down. Return to starting position. 

B.

Immediately punch right (or dominant) hand across body at shoulder height, pivoting on back foot to turn hips forward slightly and rotating fist palm-down.

Sets:

2

Reps:

20

2. Hook-Uppercut

A.

Stand in fighting stance with feet staggered, left (or nondominant) foot forward and fists by chin holding weights. Draw left arm, elbow bent 90 degrees, back at shoulder height, turning fist to face you and swiveling hips and feet forward. Forcefully pivot feet to swivel hips forward, arcing arm toward opposite side of body (maintaining 90-degree angle). Return to starting position. 

B.

Immediately draw bent left arm down and back (fist turned up), opening hips and bringing fist to just above hip. Forcefully pivot feet to swivel hips forward, driving fist up to shoulder height. That's 1 rep. Do 20 reps. Without switching stance, switch arms and repeat. 

Sets:

2

Reps:

20 per side

3. Slip-Weave

A.

Stand in fighting stance with feet staggered, left (or nondominant) foot forward and fists by chin holding weights. Hinge from waist to bend torso toward right, bending knees and squeezing right elbow to thigh (as if doing a side crunch). Switch sides; repeat. That’s 1 rep. Do 20 reps. 

B.

Then, keeping torso upright, drop into a low squat, immediately shifting your weight and torso backward (over right leg) as you dip. Rise up to return to fighting stance, then immediately squat and shift forward (over left leg) as you dip. That’s 1 rep. Continue alternating for 20 reps.

Sets:

2

Reps:

20 per side

4. Walking Plank

A.

Start on floor in plank on forearms. 

B.

Shift weight onto right forearm and press left palm to floor under shoulder. Do the same with the right palm to come to plank on palms. 

C.

Lower onto left forearm then right forearm to return to forearm plank. Switch sides; repeat. Continue alternating.

Sets:

2

Reps:

30 seconds

5. Half Pigeon

A.

From down dog, bring bent left leg forward, rotating knee toward left wrist and left ankle toward right wrist so shin is parallel to body. Tent hands and walk fingertips forward to lean torso forward until head is close to or on floor. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10 breaths

6. Bridge

A.

Lie faceup on floor with legs bent and feet flat and hip-width apart, arms by sides on floor to start. Lift hips so body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Interlace hands on floor under hips, pressing palms together and rolling shoulders back and down. Hold for 10 deep breaths, then lower to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10 breaths

7. Extended Side Angle

A.

Stand with feet wide and hands on hips. Turn left foot out to left and bend left knee so left thigh is parallel to floor. Place left hand on floor in front of left foot and extend right arm overhead and reaching toward right, palm facing down. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10 breaths

8. Downward Dog

A.

Start on floor in plank on palms. Lift hips, pushing them back so body forms an upside-down V, pulling abs toward spine and driving heels toward floor. Hold for 10 deep breaths, then return to start.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10 breaths

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