You’ve probably heard about the fundamental benefits of yoga such as; improving flexibility and mobility, developing strength and balance as well as encouraging relaxation. These are all great in itself but yoga has so much more to offer, especially to a BJJ practitioner. Whatever your belt or rank, incorporating a yoga routine into your training and workout schedule can have a profound impact.
Yoga is one of the best ways to compliment your training, as it can positively affect every aspect of your game. As you progress through your BJJ journey you will discover your physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. Jiu Jitsu gives you an opportunity to work through them and allows you to grow through that experience. While Jiu Jitsu has likely exposed your physical limitations already, yoga can help you realise what your body is capable of doing and will allow you to push through those limits.
FOCUSING ON YOUR BREATH
We’ve all rolled with that guy who gasses out in the first two minutes of a roll and you spend the next four listening, while they huff and they puff and they attempt to blow your guard down. Let’s face it we have all been that guy as well. Breathing deserves its own article about benefits and techniques but I want to emphasize two key points.
Focusing on your breath encourages mindfulness and awareness, which is great during a roll and life in general. Learning how to breathe properly by taking deep breaths through your nose and your diaphragm as well as how to breathe in different positions can have immediate improvements for your stamina and endurance during training.
MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION
Jiu Jitsu is often described as a form of meditation. It’s very hard to think about something else when you have someone twice your size on top of you trying to work a submission. One of the things we first start to learn in BJJ is becoming aware of our actions and reactions.
Yoga is traditionally a way to prepare your body for meditating. The concentration and focus required to properly do so is in itself a mental exercise. Whether you practice meditation or not, training your mind to focus on the task in front of you is an incredibly valuable skill.
INJURY PREVENTION AND RECOVERY
Injuries to varying degrees are a consistent part of BJJ, to the point where they are almost unavoidable. Despite these risk factors, BJJ has a decent reputation within martial arts for longevity. Most often once something comes up, it never really goes away, but the effort we put into recovery can influence how we hold up in the long run. Consider yoga as a form of active recovery. By paying attention to your body and focusing on sensitive areas you can recover quicker and even prevent certain injuries.
Like most people starting anything new, I had no idea what I was getting into. There are so many different terms and styles, it was rather daunting. After some research (aka looking at infographics on Pinterest), I slowly was able to distinguish between them and I began to explore and find the styles that I like.
There are several fundamental differences which define the various yoga styles, here are some of the more common ones;
The oldest form is Hatha, which most if not all other forms derive from this one. Hatha is slow paced and requires minimal movement between poses.
Vinyasa and Flow are forms which connect different poses through movement. Ashtanga is more traditionally structured compared too other Vinyasa forms. This style is heavily linked to breathing while working the flow of the sequence over one to two hours. It can be rather challenging to start but beginners are gradually introduced to the system so they can learn at their own pace.
Yin is a very gentle form in which poses are held for long periods of time, slowly increasing the depth in which the poses are held. Restoration and healing is stressed in this form.
Iyengar yoga is similar to Ashtanga but it emphasises key differences in the poses and holds to those alignment variations rigidly. It is highly structured in favour of a strong focus on details and instruction is group based, with students taking breaks to learn from the teacher in between poses.
Bikram yoga is performed as a short sequence in a heated room with high humidity. The goal is to practice the sequence twice through over 90 minutes whilst sweating. Hot yoga is similar in that it utilises a hot humid environment, but the sequence can be more dynamic or even improvisational.
Original Post By: Eleanor Wright