Calm and Strong: Shooter’s Yoga
Whether you’re shooting for self-defense or competition, keeping your head cool and clear is an important part of pulling the trigger. Another important part of keeping your gun on target? Upper body strength, which is a key player in recoil control. Take a look at Jerry Miculek’s forearms sometime and see for yourself.
Yoga not only provides a calming and comprehensive full-body workout, but some of the most basic poses can be great for developing the arm strength necessary to keep your gun under control. If they aren’t already there, consider working these simple activities into your next workout.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses and very simple to execute.
Start on the floor or mat on your hands and knees, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Your palms should be spread with index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and your toes should be tucked under. Exhale and push your hips toward the ceiling, creating an inverted V-shape, the back should be straight and the front ribs tucked in. Your legs should be straight, with your heels reaching towards the floor.
In order to vary this pose up a bit, you can opt to go into three-legged dog. Keeping your shoulders parallel to the ground, life your right leg into the air. Hold here, and then switch size and hold the left leg for an equal amount of time.
The plank position is explained most basically as the top of a pushup.
Starting in downward facing dog, inhale and draw your torso forward so that your arms are perpendicular to the floor with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Your torso should be parallel to the floor.
You can stay in this position for an extended period of time or, keeping your shoulders above your wrists, draw your right knee into your chest and hold. Then switch legs. Alternating this way provides a good core workout and an arm-strengthening exercise.
The dolphin pose is less commonly used than plank or downward facing dog. It’s very similar to downward facing dog, but rather than resting your weight on your hands, it’s on your forearms.
As in downward facing dog, start on the floor on your hands and knees, with your knees directly below your hips. However, unlike downward facing dog, your forearms should be on the floor with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Firmly press your palms and forearms into the floor while curling your toes under and lifting your sit bones to the ceiling and stretching your heels towards the floor.
You can choose to keep your forearms parallel to one another or to push your hands together, depending on your preference.
Each of these poses can be adapted through pushups or other alterations to be more difficult. It’s important to remember in the practice of yoga to push yourself without ever pushing your body beyond its limits. If something is hurting you, stop.
There are a lot of benefits to be had from the practice of yoga, strengthening the upper body and clearing the mind are just the start.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.