The yoga-meets-martial arts practice is the newest way to get movie star fit

Photo by George Pimentel

Q: What’s a good way to shake up my regular yoga routine?

A: Try adding martial arts to your yoga training in the form of Budokon. Referred to as everything from an “integrative movement system” to the “science of mind and movement”, this up-and-coming form of exercise is also just plain fun. (And if you like Jennifer Aniston’s shape, Budokon gets some of the credit).

You know that series of yoga moves — plank to downward dog to cobra? Try doing it in one uninterrupted, extreme slow-motion flow, pushing a roll through your spine to get you there and back.

And that’s just a warm up.

What’s cool about Budokon is that the fluid and dynamic yoga moves you do at the beginning of class are exactly what your martial arts moves —like roundhouse kicks — look like at the end. Only difference: you’re not pushing against the floor anymore, you’re upright and landing kicks on the pad in your instructor’s hands.

My gravity-defying teacher was Jamal Pender. After a lifetime of training in martial arts (he started when he was five) he came across a video of Budokon inventor Cameron Shayne. Fast forward to 2010, and Jamal is the only certified Budokon instructor in Ontario, holding classes at Toronto’s Mindful Movement Centre.

I can recommend this: if you can, go directly to Jamal’s class. Do not scan YouTube for videos of Shayne or anyone else doing Budokon because you’ll watch and think, “my body can’t do that.”

But that’s the whole point: try making your body do that. In the process you’ll probably experience what I did — improved flexibility, balance, control, coordination and strength. Is it any wonder Team Aniston is making a move into rom-com/action flicks with the likes of Gerard Butler? Take that Mr. and Mrs. Smith.