From Kata to Yoga – My New Fitness Routine from

Why I took my fitness routine from kata to yoga and how I learned to do it all at home and on my own schedule

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Once upon a time I studied Okinawan Kenpo Karate, a very aggressive form of martial arts that originated in Okinawa. It was one of the best times of my life as far as my physical fitness goes and it was a stellar of way of releasing aggression and retraining your instincts and reflexes to be aggressive rather than defensive. Kenpo is known for being fairly undogmatic however most schools of Kenpo Karate agree on the following:

  • Kenpo is a system of self-defense focusing almost entirely on counter-strikes. Typical schools of Kenpo do not teach initiating attacks against others.
  • The goal of a Kenpo practitioner is to end a fight however he/she can as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Kenpo is almost exclusively a stand-up martial art, using hand strikes, kicks, elbows, knees, throws, and in some cases, grappling joint locks to defend against an enemy.

It was fabulous! I advanced through my training quickly, earned my black belt, and truly felt like I’d connected with a physical activity in a way that I never felt with other sports or activities I tried. Then, I got hurt, moved, and was forced to stop. I’ve thought about returning to the art but ultimately decide against it every time. I realized that what I missed most isn’t the fighting, the weapons, or the defense; I miss studying the kata.

What is a kata?

Kata is a Japanese word that refers to repeated detailed choreographed patterns of movements often practiced solo. The goal of kata is to practice and retain proven techniques of self-defense. By performing the kata in a repetitive manner you develop the ability to execute techniques and movements in a natural, reflex-like manner which internalizes the movements so they can be executed and adapted under different circumstances, without thought or hesitation. 

I would sometimes spend hours performing a kata over and over and over again. THAT is what I miss. I miss the deep focus of training my body to perform new fluid motions over and over again, to learn new positions and train new reflexes. It was incredible and it’s been on my mind a lot lately, that’s why I’ve decided to pick up yoga. 

Yoga is not the same as kata. Let me repeat that, it is not the same at all. It is, however, my best alternative at this time. I took a few yoga classes once, a few years ago, but I had a hard time making the 6pm course time. Here in Atlanta there are literally hundreds of options for yoga but with my career it’s hard for me to commit to a time and with this traffic it’s even harder for me to commit to both a time and a location. Besides, what I loved about kata was the fact that it was personal, self-focused, and done individually. Being frank, I don’t want to attend a class full of other people. I want to focus by myself.

I’ve been looking for something that would work for me and I think I found it in

Why Yoga? lets me practice the yoga at home, in my own time, alone. It gives me exactly what I want. I can choose whatever music I want, or no music at all. I can choose to light candles or open the windows or perform it in the pitch black if that’s what I prefer and sometimes that is what I prefer. It’s what I preferred when I did kata. It helped me to focus on what my body was doing rather than what was around me. Sometimes I need that. 

It also lets me do yoga at 2am on a Saturday night if that is when the mood strikes me. Besides, I just really, really, really hate going to classes. I feel like there are already enough times on my time and the last thing I need is just one more place I have to be or one more thing I have to do. Can we just get a break from the obligations already?! Seriously. 

If I get really in to it (and I think I might) I may have to set-up my own little yoga home studio when we buy our house next year. has these printable yoga pose guides you can print and frame and tons of video courses ranging from beginner to expert and even includes prenatal (you know…in case we’re ever lucky enough to conceive and carry full-term).

So, what do you think? 

Do you do yoga? Have you ever tried I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl

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