What Can Yoga Do for Your BJJ?
Many BJJ practitioners and athletes do some sort of 'extra' exercise to supplement their jiu jitsu training and help improve their conditioning. Whether it is some sort of cardio like running or cycling, or a resistance-based activity like weight lifting or using kettlebells, the strength and conditioning benefits can be amazing.
But if the thought of endless miles on a treadmill or elliptical makes you want to cry and you can't imagine yourself at the local Crossfit gym, may we suggest Yoga for BJJ? Yoga is a unique form of exercise that will improve many of the things that standard cardio and resistance training impacts, plus more, and will do it many times better. What will yoga training do for your jiu jitsu?
Yoga improves flexibility for BJJ
The premise of jiu jitsu is that the weaker can utilize leverage to overcome strength advantages. On this point, we can all agree. But one principle that is difficult to overcome is a lack of flexibility. Throughout the world of competitive BJJ and at all weight classes, there is one common denominator and that is flexibility. Flexibility is something that tends to decrease as we get older and if you work in a relatively sedentary environment, seated at a desk all day, it only gets worse.
Improving your flexibility will pay dividends in every BJJ position. Imagine someone trying to pass your today with tight hips and hamstrings and how much more difficult that would be if your hips were even just 10% more flexibility and those hamstrings weren't so tight.
Yoga improves body movement and core strength for BJJ
Yoga training utilizes body movements that mirror or are very similar to those we utilize during BJJ. Many yoga poses involve holding our body weight up with our arms and planking during the techniques. This isometric work helps strengthen our arms, shoulders, back and abdominals making it often a very extreme core workout that you will quickly see translate into stronger bridging, shrimping or upa escaping just to name a few techniques.
Being able to transition from technique to technique in a Yoga session can also improve our ability to move between positions in jiu jitsu. Very few exercise programs can mimic the dynamic body weight requirements that both BJJ and Yoga require. They are a great compliment for each other.
Yoga improves the recovery process for BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training can typically be very strenuous and the repetitive movements can put stress on joints, muscles, and connective tissue that can accumulate overtime. In addition, positions or movements such as working a great deal of closed guard can also cause tightness and imbalance in certain muscle groups, like the hip flexors in the case of the guard player.
The inherent stretching, moving and static posing of a yoga program does a great job of increasing the blood flow to sore, tight muscles and joints as well as strengthening and stabilizing any weak areas that may not be getting the work they need to become stronger.
Yoga promotes better breathing for BJJ
One of the most challenging things a new BJJ faces is not their inherent lack of technique and skill, it's the fact that they overwhelmingly tend to hold their breath when training, especially when trying to execute a move. Nothing fatigues our muscles (and brains) more is lack of oxygen and couple that with the fact that after holding our breath, we tend to start gasping to make up for the deficit which can also severely impact our ability to execute our techniques.
Yoga teaches us to be mindful of our breathing which can make the study more relaxing and also accentuates the movement and strengthening of the muscles. By becoming more thoughtful with our breath, we can be more efficient in our movement, something that pays incredible dividends on the jiu jitsu mats.
In the video below Sebastian Brosche and Miha demonstrate an introductory BJJ class that will get you feeling more flexible and ready for BJJ in minutes.
We all see those flexible BJJ players or younger grapplers pulling off flashy techniques like the berimbolo in competition or in class and wish we could do them too, but maybe we're too inflexible. Check out this article from BJJ Fanatics dedicated to those of us who want to berimbolo like the Miyaos!
Every jiu jitsu practitioner who falls in love with the mats, most likely has the same goal in common, to be on the mats as much as they can. By incorporating some yoga training into your daily and weekly schedule, you can quickly impact your flexibility, your recovery, and your actual performance on the mats simultaneously. Yoga is not usually seen as a strength and conditioning activity, but it can be. It can be as strenuous as heaving kettlebells and as heart pumping as any treadmill session. Plus it has the added benefits of improving your flexibility and helping you to recover.
If you are seriously looking for a way to increase your strength and flexibility, making you less injury prone and increasing your overall BJJ longevity, Get your copy of Yoga for BJJ today for only $47!