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Yoga and BJJ: Is It The perfect Pairing?
About 2 years ago I noticed It had started to become increasingly more difficult to get out of bed in the morning due to some wicked soreness in my hips and lower back. It would take me almost a half hour of hunched over walking to finally stand up straight and continue with my day. Luckily, during training the pain would disappear after my body became warm and pliable. The relief was nice, but the next morning was always the same story of discomfort. In my mind, I thought this was just a consequence of training BJJ. This condition was just something that would eventually catch up with us all. After all, I wasn’t in my 20’anymore, I train hard, and I’m a smaller practitioner. I was about 9 years into my BJJ journey at this point and I started to conceded to the idea that this was my fate, and I would deal with it by just powering through. It’s true, BJJ can be very taxing on your body. We are fighting. We twist and turn our bodies into positions it may not always deem as familiar, and the movements of BJJ can be unpredictable causing distress within the muscles and ligaments. Chronic pain and soreness is just part of the game, right? If you do nothing to counteract the movements and create balance within your body, the answer is yes.
I wasn’t willing to accept that this was just the way it was going to be. There had to be a way to mitigate the stress I was placing on my body from BJJ, so that I could lead a more enjoyable life off the mat, as well as on.
A great friend, mentor and longtime BJJ peer of mine suggested I try yoga. I knew what it was, I was familiar with some aspects, and definitely interested in giving it a shot. I started online with some basic stretches that only amounted to about 10 minutes a day. I was diligent with it, and I noticed results within the first week. Most prevalent in my recovery.
I became very interested in yoga practice. I delved into it a bit more, and not long after my first experience with it, it became more of a staple in my everyday routine. It’s the perfect compliment to BJJ. I find the philosophies to be similar, and the approach to learning yoga is right in line with BJJ. The quelling of the ego, the breathing, the amount of repetition, and commitment it takes to become proficient. You could draw many parallels between the two.
When we train BJJ we often crunch ourselves into a ball. Every thing is tight. When we defend, we shrink our bodies inward as to allow nothing to penetrate our shell. When we attack we attach ourselves to our partner hoping to eliminate any space that may be present. This constant closing of the body causes tightness and imbalance. In many ways yoga is the opening of the body. The expansion of our form. This opposite effect is the perfect healing compliment to BJJ.
Making time for yoga is now a priority in my training, and it doesn’t get overlooked or pushed aside. I practice in some way every day, and I truly believe it’s given me the gift of more mat time. I can honestly say that my body feels better now than it did when I started BJJ, and I’ve aged 11 years since then.
We all just want to feel good. Were in a constant search for the right diet and supplements, the right activities, the right amount of sleep. We chase the desire to “feel amazing”. When we add something to the mix that produces results, we keep it around. Yoga has been that for me. I can’t imagine my life without it. Like BJJ, it’s work, and will demand your commitment if you hope to become proficient.
Start small with the basic stretches and give it a chance to work for you. More than likely you’ll experience results right away. Our ultimate goal is to stay on the mat for as long as possible. Many of us, including myself, have a long way to go. Yoga may be that missing piece in your search for the BJJ fountain of youth.
Here’s a simple flow you can try from Sebastian Brosche. It’s slow and very user friendly. Give it a try and see how you feel!
For more grappling specific yoga designed to undo the stresses that BJJ and martial arts can put on our muscles and joints, check out Josh Stockman's "Grappling With Yoga" series available here at BJJ Fanatics!