At our dojo, we are fortunate to have a very talented and very patient yoga instructor. She comes into the dojo on Saturdays and Sundays and teaches for about an hour. Some of her students also study aikido; most, however, come in strictly for yoga.
On Sunday mornings, when I can convince myself that it’s okay to get up early every day of the week, I become one of her students. I have found that yoga is a very interesting movement system when you compare it to daily martial arts training. In aikido specifically, there is often so much movement involved, and so much interaction with another person, that to study something that is relatively solitary and still can force you to view your current capabilities in a new light. I, for one, have found many poses that I thought would be challenged instead were very easy to hold and maintain. On the flip side, I have also found that sometimes a pose that I would have thought was easy turns out to be much harder than I thought. When I experience those moments, I can’t help but think through what ramifications it has on my technique. For example, struggling to do pose X might explain why I have trouble with technique Y. It’s also nice to simply have a different way of challenging oneself.
Just like weapons can occasionally provide an alternate perspective on movement and timing, yoga or some other sport or activity seems to have the same effect in regards to balance and posture. I find the class challenging and fun at the same time–and it’s certainly a joy to be a true beginner in my own dojo!