Stanley Pranin demonstrates yoga and stretching exercises for Aikido


“How I saved my back for Aikido!”

I’m Stanley Pranin and today I’d like to show you some of the yoga and stretching exercises that I’ve incorporated into my aikido warmup routine.

About 25 years ago while living in Japan, I developed chronic back pain. I think it was mostly due to poor posture from working long hours at the computer. Although I remained active and regularly did stretching exercises, back pain was my constant companion.

Then about five years ago, I started taking yoga classes, something I should have done years earlier. The yoga postures I learned, together with my years of stretching in aikido practice, gave me the tools I needed to address my back pain. My back steadily improved to the point that I seldom feel pain anymore. If something is not right, I know exactly what stretching exercises to do to make the necessary adjustments and eliminate any pain.

Now, I would like to demonstrate some of the exercises that I use to warmup for aikido practice. The routine gradually changes over time, and I am always looking for new exercises that my body responds to well.

The exercise ball has been a big part of my success in managing back pain. Whenever I feel the least bit of discomfort or tightness, I do exercises like those I’m demonstrating here to keep myself loose.
I would encourage those of you who have body or joint pain issues to begin exploring the healing benefits that yoga, stretching and similar disciplines offer. Study, research and put together a routine that meets your needs, and you’ll enjoy a greatly improved quality of life.


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  1. People who work in front of a computer, slumped on a chair, all day can really harm their back and spine later in life. Exercise like yoga and pilates can help correct this but it’s important to remember that proper execution is the key. It’s better to learn from an experienced teacher. Very informative post! Glad you found a way to solve your back issues.

  2. Frank Wolf says:

    Thank you Sensei for sharing this with us. As a PA working in Emergency Medicine I treat many people with acute and chronic musculoskeletal back pain that although sometimes severe and disabling, the great majority of cases are the result of poor posture or physical conditioning and would respond very well to yoga or similar practices. It’s very gracious and generous of you to share this with us. It can truly benefit many people.

  3. Hi Stanley,
    I agree yoga can help with mobilising the spine but just like correct technique is important in Aikido, so is it also the case with yoga. I have been a long time practitioner as well as being an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
    Recently I have come across Japanese Yoga and am learning specific therapy aspects of yoga as part of the teacher training syllabus which are also applicable to Aikido. There are suggestions I would like to make to the poses you have demonstrated to make them even better for your back and body.

    If you are interested, I would be happy to write it up as an article you could publish also.

    All the best

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