18 Yoga Moves That Help Your Capoeira
Yogaeira: The perfect balance of body and mind
Combining the powers of the famous Brazilian martial art and traditional Yoga is an innovative way to add to the zest of capoeira these days.
In almost any capoeira group, you will notice the stark contrast between a capoeirista with a yoga background and those without.
The challenge lies in achieving the perfect balance of fusion of the two arts, without allowing one to overpower the other.
Yoga, is perhaps, the most efficient way to improve one's flexibility, which in turn can have a positive dynamic impact on your capoeira.
Help your Capoeira with these 18 Yoga moves
1. TRIANGLE (Trikonasana)
Method: Standing with feet wide apart, turn your left toe inwards, slightly, and rotate through the thigh until the right toe points directly to the side. Keeping your legs straight, ground through your feet and push your thighs upwards.
Spread arms wide at shoulder height, roll your front thigh open and hinge at the front hip.
Lengthen your spine towards your front feet and release bottom palm to the front ankle.
Benefits: This is the perfect exercise for a capoeirista to promote balance. It also stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs, thereby creating expansion in the body.
2. BRIDGE (Setu bandha sarvangasana)
Method: Lie faceup, knees bent, soles of the feet pressed flat on the floor, with arms at the sides. Keep feet parallel at hip-width apart and heels under the knees.
Push upper arms upwards to expand your chest. Grounding your upper arms, put pressure on the heels and lift your hips off the floor, keeping your knees vertical. Interlock your fingers under your back and hold the position.
Benefits: This energetic backbend opens up your chest and strengths your neck and spine.
3. UPWARD FACING DOG (Urdhva mukha svanasana)
Method: Lie face down on the floor. Bend your elbows and place in line with lower rib case. Reach back through your and pull yourself forward and upwards and straighten your arms.
Lift thighs and knees away from the floor and do a pushup keeping your chest wide.
Benefits: This asana opens up the chest and shoulder muscles and stretches the abdominal and hip flexors.
4. HALF MOON (Ardha chandrasana)
Method: Starting in the triangle pose, bend your front knee. Push your back foot back and put both your hands a foot in front of you. Lift upwards with the toe.
Shift your weight on to the front foot and lift back foot off the ground. Reach back and stretch towards the wall behind you, while raising up the upper arm.
To gain a good posture, rotate your chest and point it upwards towards the ceiling and fix your eyes to the top of your hand.
Benefits: This excellent balancing exercise strengthens your legs and outer hips, stretches your hamstring and inner thighs and promotes concentration.
5. BOW (Dhanurasana)
Method: Lie face down and lift arms, chest and hips off the floor by bending your knees and holding on to your ankles. Lift body upwards, facing the ceiling, spin inner thighs in the same direction, spread and lift the chest.
Benefits: This backbend stretches the whole body, especially the chest and shoulders.
Method: Kneel with shins hip-width apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Arch your body backwards slowly, keeping arms straight and touching your ankles, with chest pointing upwards towards the ceiling.
Benefits: This typical backbend is great for the entire front part of your body, right from the throat down to your ankle. It is a great strengthener for the back muscles too.
This ancient breathing and meditation technique aids in clearing your mind and helps you to stay focused, which is one of the most important aspects of capoeira. This purified method of breathing involves breathing through one's nostrils alternatively, which clears the partial or fully blocked channels through which the air passes and enhances energy and positiveness. Since this goes hand in hand with the other yogic Asanas, their union is considered the topmost form of self-discipline and purification.
8. TREE (Vrksasana)
This exercise is again beneficial to capoeiristas in that it helps improve focus, strengthens the ankle muscles, calves, inner thigh and groin muscles. To perform this exercise, simply stand with feet apart, with your arms by your sides. Put all your weight on your left leg and then place the sole of your right foot inside your left thigh and maintain proper balance. Repeat with the other side.
9. DOWNWARD FACING DOG (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This exercise encourages full body circulation and is a great stretch for calves and heels. Start by getting on all fours, spread your hands forward and wide, as well as your legs for stability,and putting pressure on your toes, push your hips upwards in an inverted V, at the same time keeping knees slightly bent. Maintain for some time and repeat.
10. HALF SPINAL TWIST (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
If practised in a proper way, by gentle and smooth movements only, the exercise does wonders to your spine. Kneel, and sit with your arm to the right of your feet. Lift the left leg over the right placing the foot against the outer side of the right knee. Stretch arms out and twist to the left. Now bring the right arm down on the outside of the left knee and hold your left foot with your right hand. Exhale and twist as much as you can to the left while looking over your shoulder.
The handstand forms the basis of any number of gymnasts and acrobatic movements and is an essential component of the game of capoeira. It is the perfect exercise for torso and shoulder strength. This movement in yoga is also referred to as the 'balancing tree' procedure. This exercise also helps in improving coordination and balance.
12. CHAIR POSTURE (Utkatasana)
Also known as ' Fierce ' or ' Powerful' posture, similar to sitting on a chair except that you need to balance without one. This exercise performed with knees apart and heels pressed to the floor is ideal for persons whose ankles are too tight to handle the full cocorinha movement in capoeira. This squat, also known as 'cocorinha squat' in capoeira, increases energy flow and helps to relax the torso and the pelvis region. It also gives a gentle stretch to the major body muscles. This squat also gives an incredible leg and cardio workout. Many capoeiristas base their exercise sessions on this posture.
13. WALL ASSISTED HANDSTAND (Adho mukha vrksasana)
This energising inversion strengthens your shoulder, arms, wrists and is excellent for promoting balance. In capoeira, it helps in improving your "Armada",the crescent-shaped kick, in which you lift your left leg high across your body and sweep across with the blade of your foot. If you have good balance you can even add a spin before the kick. This is one of the most common movements in capoeira.
14. CROW (Bakasana)
Builds - and requires - serious strength in arms, wrists and hip flexors. The squat posture involved with the body raised in the air and supported by the arms and shoulder power only needs strenuous effort. This exercise is best for"Meia lua de compasso) where one has to crouch sideways with hand and feet on the ground and draw a circle in the air. It is also good for "Esquira" (escape movement) when you have to crouch down to escape your opponents spinning "Armada".
15. SEATED FORWARD FOLD (Paschimottanasana)
This feel-good exercise elongates the back of your body, lengthens your spine and strengthens your hamstrings. Great for your "Ginga" (jingo) and "Negativa" movement. The Ginga is the first movement to learn and the last to master in capoeira, requires continuous practice. The rhythmic back and forward motion with body crouched low needs a strong back, powerful legs and flexibility.
16. EXTENDED HAND TO BIG TOE POSITION (Utthita hasta padangustasana)
This asymmetrical body position promotes strength from toes to fingertips, especially in the legs, pelvis and lower back. It also increases flexibility and promotes balance equanimity. Good for "armada", "queixado" ,"Cocorinha" etc...
17. REVOLVED HEAD KNEE POSE (Parivrtta janu sirsasana)
This asana gives a lovely lateral torso stretch and works on the tiny muscles between the side ribs. The hamstrings and inner thighs are strengthened, hips and shoulders loosened with blood circulation improved in the spinal column thus releasing tension in the back. This enjoyable forward bend, also strengthens the abdominal organs, such as the liver and kidney and thus improves digestion. Good for "Rasteira","Banda","Queixado" etc.
18. CAMEL POSE (Ustrasana)
This is a gentle backward bend asana and is important as it prepares the body for more serious backbends. Camel pose, opens the chest, working deep into the heart chakra, stretches shoulder and abdomen and increases flexibility to the lower body. It also improves flexibly of neck and spine, stretches the throat and thyroid glands. Very good for defensive movements like "Cocorinha",and"Resistencia",and take down movements like "Rasteira" and "Banda".
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