“Breathe, relax, aim, squeeze. A whole lot of yoga in shooting,” says John Wayne Taylor, and indeed there is a lot to recommend Yoga to anyone who participates in activities that require discipline, mental focus, and good health.
But whatever the benefits, is the average gun owner really going to be chomping at the bit to jump into the ‘downward dog’ posture? If they’re anything like me, probably not. My own thoughts on the South Asian discipline were informed more by visions of the tofu and Birkenstock brigade twisting themselves into pretzel poses than notions of improved health and focus while shooting.
Firearms instructor Mickey Schuch is working to change those attitudes. He has teamed up with yogi Jon Uidl to create a series of six short videos on YouTube titled “Yoga for Gun Slingers,” showing a series of simple stretches that can easily be done in the comfort of one’s own living room to improve flexibility, increase focus, and relieve tension with an aim toward improving shooting skills.
Let’s face it: the modern American already has a tendency to be sedentary, leading to many health issues. In some respects, citizens who train with firearms have the worst of both worlds: an indoor job that involves sitting around with a lot of repetitive motions, followed by an outdoor hobby that involves…standing around outside with a lot of repetitive motions. (Referring to private citizens here, not those who volunteer for the US Government travel plan that starts off with a tour of Deep South swampland.) Perhaps a little bit of yoga might be just what the doctor ordered?
I had the opportunity to speak with Mickey about how he embarked on this project; there are three big reasons why he’s enthusiastic about yoga.
(1) Mental discipline. “Attitude affects everything,” he says. Many adults psych themselves out when trying to learn something new if they aren’t good at it immediately — whether it’s shooting a gun or trying to do a handstand. Yoga breathing exercises that help quiet the mind and calm the nerves during those periods of anxiety. (It is not an accident that sharpshooters take a deep breath before aiming at a long range target.) This sort of mental discipline is fundamental.
(2) Movement and flexibility. “It’s all about making the shooter a better platform…. [In a gunfight,] all you are is a platform for the gun,” says Mickey. Yoga practitioners can get into and maintain uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time while staying controlled and focused. The practice of yoga can help improve a person’s flexibility and mobility, things that can only help when the balloon goes up.
(3) General well-being. While his enthusiasm for the practice of yoga was driven initially by his own work in firearms and hand-to-hand combat training, Schuch has since come to appreciate its impacts throughout his life. “The point of studying combat is to protect life, but what sort of life are you protecting? Attitude and lifestyle affect everything.” Yoga, he believes, is just one more component to a healthy physical and mental lifestyle.
Intrigued, I worked my way through the exercises. While I’m hardly an example of the ideal male form in shape for peak performance, I have completed a few Beachbody routines like Shaun T’s Insanity and Tony Horton’s P90X, which includes a famously long yoga video. So I figured I could nail these without problems.
I will say…some of the exercises were not exactly a cakewalk. They were doable, they were things that could be attempted even if you were far from top shape. But holding the positions for as long as they do in the video?
I tapped out a few times. Like everything else in life, the good results don’t come easily. Even so, I did feel…better after doing the exercises. I decided I’d have to incorporate more of this sort of routine going forward.
The videos are on YouTube. Give them a try; you might be surprised at the results.
Part 1 | How to Relieve Your Shooters Grip
Part 2 | Dish Ragging the Arms & Yoga Form
Part 3 | Cobra Rolls
Part 4 | Chest & Shoulders
Part 5 | Shoulders & Arms
Part 6 | Breathing
Turn in your man card Paulsen.
Go do P90X’s 90 minute yoga video. Then we’ll talk.
Okay, but I’m not getting out of my chair.
I knew a guy that did yoga once. Turned him gay.
It was a joke people, relax.
Anybody remember Tom in Oregon’s yoga video? Yoga is some bad assery. I was taking a class in the local area then my job interfered with the class schedule. Now that I’m retired full time I need to get back into it.
Us doddering old timers need all the help we can get.
I still practice yoga. It helps stave off the arthritis that has crept into my joints.
Stretching is always good for you. Do it every day.
I tried yoga and just found that it didn’t fit my schedule. I will say this however: its GREAT exercise that will make you a fuckton stronger. You’ve never been as sore in your life as you will be after a yoga class. Parts you didnt even know you had will be screaming at you.
You’ll also feel like a total dumbass as your body screams at you while some 65 year old lady makes it look easy. This shit ain’t easy even if you’re a body builder.
It’s also very mental. Joe Rogan aptly describes it as a martial art where you fight solely against yourself.
If you can fit it into your schedule I recommend it. You’ll hate the first few weeks as your body gets acclimated. I wish I had the time but I just don’t.
Do they make yoga pants with a pistol pocket?
At least a couple of companies do, 5.11 is one of them and no – no one here would look good in them.
“…no one here would look good in them.”
Since I ride bikes, one of my family thought it would be a neat idea to get my some cycling clothing for X-mas. The Spandex-Lycra-Whatever clothing you see on people on bikes one day a week, usually a weekend day.
It was a pants-bib kinda getup with a jersey. A top brand name, not cheap stuff.
I put it on. I looked at myself in a mirror.
I took it back off.
I look much better in all cotton, jeans and a tee…
Probably not. But they probably make them with a vaginal cutout.
Sara Tipton reviewed tactical yoga pants a couple of years ago. Probably TTAG’s nadir.
I do judo and karate kata (slowly these days) with between 2 and 10 kilos (22 lb) in each hand. Amazing how easy it is to hold pistol after that.
I did like watching the yoga class in the gym I went to years ago.
Oh I tried the meditating yoga(without the Hindu demons) thing. Trained weightlifting,bodybuilding and powerlifting for 45years. I’m a ballistic “violence of action” guy. I doubt I’ll change in my 64th year…but I do think it’s good to stretch.
Good lord, pick up a damned barbell instead of this fag shit.
I was first introduced to yoga by my BJJ teacher, Jean Jacques Machado, some 20 years ago. Pretty much any idea of “this is for girls” was immediately erased.
The yoga makes a pretty huge difference in my quality of life. I’ve had 26 broken bones, and without yoga, I don’t know that I’d be moving many of them.
Yoga is very valid to shooting as it applies the same breathing, focus and concentrated muscle to achieve the goal. I like doing yoga but it’s hard to publicly practice in classes without all the tree hugging gotta have a bamboo mat made by a monk in the rain forest and hum like a hippie junk.
I just enjoy the exercise, focus and quietness.
I add Yoga into my training at least once or twice a week (plus weights 3-4 times/week, boxing once per week and plenty of cardio) – it’s dramatically improved my race car driving and my shooting.
Yoga helps your breathing and builds core strenght, both needed in shooting competitively. It does wonders to relieve stress – bring it on.