I used to make fun of people who did yoga. I thought it was nothing more than glorified stretching. My first yoga class was easy. (I’m a former gymnast who’s stayed in good shape by staying active.) So I turned it up a notch and started doing more advanced yoga. Vinyasa yoga coordinates all your movements with your breath. It requires steady calm breathing while doing even the most difficult of poses. It’s also a boon to anyone who wants to improve their shooting . . .
Breathing has a dramatic impact on sight alignment — especially long distance target shooting. Breathing in raises your sight picture, breathing out lowers it. By controlling your breathing, by being aware of your breathing, you can shoot when your sight picture is rock steady. During a natural — or forced — respiratory pause.
Yoga teaches you to be supremely aware of your breathing. It teaches you to control your breathing — even when your muscles are under stress. Such as when you’re trying to show your friends that you can hit a target in the middle when it’s a long way away. Or hunting, when you’re excited. Or self-defense, when your entire body is suffused with adrenalin.
Controlling your breathing allows you to control the amount of adrenaline or dopamine flowing through your bloodstream (generally). Slow your breathing down and you will relax, at least somewhat.
Breathing properly eases my muscles, making a day of shooting more relaxing (if that was possible) and my body is less sore the next morning. An out breath as I fire my Mosin Nagant 91/30 lessens the recoil to my shoulder. Yes, it’s still felt, but the body will take it better.
Yoga has also refines and strengthens connective muscle tissue and some of those really small muscles responsible for balance and stillness and calm (a.k.a., stabilizing muscles). You can hold the gun up longer and more still — without it bouncing around nearly as much as you look for the target and align my sights.
A good yoga practice can and does cross over to shooting. Most people don’t get it, and you probably won’t until you try. I didn’t. I also understand that yoga isn’t for everyone. But neither is shooting. I use the benefits from one to help me improve the other. Why not you?