4 Reasons I Traded In My Yoga Mat For Boxing Gloves

by Ana Urena

Between the ages of 4 and 14, I dove deeply into ballet.

In the sixth grade, I began taking yoga and pilates as part of my regular fitness regimen.

However, a part of me still longed for the rigorous, high-intensity training I once experienced in the tae kwon do classes my brothers took.

As the years progressed, I decided to stop dancing ballet. I also slowly moved away from pilates.

At the same time, I was beginning to see how western culture was opening up to yoga more and more each day.

Unlike pilates (which is purely a fitness regime), yoga is a series of movements accompanied by a belief system.

Yoga was easier for me to continue due to how much lower in cost yoga classes are.

For the next couple of years, I dove into yoga. I found the practice opened me up to spirituality in a way I was unable to achieve with religion.

On the opposite end, I also found peaceful training is not for everyone.

There was something missing.

Here are the reasons why I traded in my yoga mat for boxing gloves:

1. Martial arts training rests mainly on willpower.

Although I agree we need to be kind to one another and live a peaceful life, I also believe yoga teachings are not for everyone.

From a young age, I was a passionate child. Taekwondo was not only a great way to stay in shape, it also served as an outlet for my pent-up energy.

It was great to know that regardless of training, when it comes to pushing the limits of your body, there is no beginner or intermediate level.

At the age of 10, I was running laps and working out with grown men and women. With martial arts, the only limit is your willpower.

2. Martial arts pushes you in ways yoga does not.

Now I've started muay Thai, I am relearning to appreciate the feeling after high-intensity training.

Martial arts training is not something you can do for 15 minutes at a time. MMA (mixed martial arts) will never be the chamomile tea we use to unwind.

On the contrary, it is what we use to wind up.

Unlike the way yoga encourages you to take a child’s pose whenever you run out of breath, martial arts wants you to keep going.

It is a different kind of pushing yourself.

With yoga, your mind and body are one at all costs. In martial arts, your mind controls your body.

At the end of each training, the mind and body are forced to come to an agreement.

3. Some of us need uppers, while others need downers.

Our bodies are all created differently, and one should mold his or her life according to his or her specific needs.

When you look for a partner, you look for qualities that make you feel happy to be around. The same goes for food, clothing and friends.

So why shouldn’t your form of exercise be the same way? I need more stimulation on a daily basis.

This is very much unlike my yoga teaching friends, who have mellow personalities that demand peaceful tones and environments.

Don’t be afraid to go the other route.

4. Yoga is not an escape or personality trait.

In one year alone, three people quit my previous job to pursue becoming yoga teachers.

It was a job we were all unhappy in. However, even those who were never interested in yoga saw it as their only way out.

There is a sense of calm about a person who practices yoga that others wish to emulate.

There is also a showing-off factor in yoga I have not seen in other practices. This is unfortunately due to how mainstream it has become.

It is not the intention of yoga to be full of ego, as the practices of yoga advise you to move away from the ego and listen to the self.

However, when people say they are attending advanced class instead of just saying they're going to yoga, I cringe.

I notice that as soon as someone expresses an interest in yoga, outsiders' perceptions of the individual change dramatically. Don’t be afraid to disconnect from the views others have placed on you.

One day as I was scrolling through my feed, I saw yet another image of a blogger doing a wobbly tree pose in front of a scenic view.

All of a sudden, everything was clear to me.

My coworkers and I had been practicing yoga for the wrong reasons. It was a lot like a bad relationship.

Something that once made me feel content was now making me feel stuck.

For a moment, I too thought that becoming a yoga teacher was my only way out of living the dull 9-to-5 lifestyle.

I saw yoga as an escape.

With muay Thai, I feel empowered. How much I progress will be based on my will power.

Yoga is not a bad practice in any way, shape or form. But it is not for everyone.

Because there is so much emphasis and importance placed on being a yogi, it is hard to separate yourself from the practice.

But trading in my yoga mat for boxing gloves was one of the best decisions I have ever made.