The Connection of Yoga and Jiu Jitsu - Why Everyone Should Practice Yoga
Three years ago - as a black belt - I was recovering from shoulder surgery and going through rehab. That was when I first discovered power yoga.
My conception of yoga was just like most of the men. I thought it was just “stretching” and mostly for girls.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Between learning and competing in jiu jitsu for nearly a decade, fighting amateur mma and working out I have always looked for ways to challenge myself, to improve my physical and mental abilities in every possible way.
That's when the Power Yoga came into play. After taking my first practice I was hooked. I could not believe that my body was a bit shaky from doing the asanas (poses) I also remembered that my hips felt amazing - in Jiu Jitsu if your hips are dead, your Jiu Jitsu is dead.
The beautiful art of Jiu Jitsu requires tremendous amount of hip movement and mobility. Don't get me wrong - you don't have to be "flexible" to do Jiu Jitsu but being able to move your body (limbs, joints, hips, neck etc.) in multiple directions can boost your game and open the doors to new possibilities such as sweeps, submissions and escapes just to name a few. As a naturally very flexible practitioner of the gentle art, my guard was always very tough to pass and I was able to perform many techniques because of that flexibility.
So, what did Power Yoga have to offer me? Well first you can always work on something even if you are already ahead. Second Power Yoga showed me that not only I can be more flexible in a lot of positions but be stronger as well. It was an aha moment. The more I did Yoga the more I discovered things that my body can do. The more malleable I become.
I have learned how to utilize my entire body when I roll. I’ve learned how to Integrate/engage my muscles together. We call that CONNECTION. Mastering that is not an easy task. But I have noticed tremendous progress due to practicing Power Yoga just a few times a week.
Baptiste style vinyasa Yoga every move relates to the breath. In some of ‘them’ you inhale in others exhale with a purpose. The purpose to breathe through your movements. And we all know how breathing is important in Jiu Jitsu. This concept takes a while to master and beginners are quite often out of breath. It’s a brand-new thing for them and very stressful thing for them, and a lot of them either forget to breathe or simply tense and contract their muscles so much, so their faces turn purple. In power Yoga every move is following by breath which can easily be transferred to the times you roll live. Your brain will remember to breathe for you. With breathing there is calm. You want to stay calm when you roll. If you’re not calm when you’re rolling then you’re rolling on the verge of panic and making mistakes. We all made those mistakes when we first started.
Another beautiful attribute that I have learned from Power Yoga is how to be mindful, to be present in the moment.. When you are present you can see what's coming at you and see where and how you can progress.
Now let’s go to the GET OUT FROM YOUR COMFORT ZONE part. One of the biggest reasons people hesitate to try Jiu Jitsu is EGO. Average male from 25 and above simply does not want to look stupid and clumsy or get schooled by a youngster or some skinny little dude. Power Yoga will help you to take that first step out of your comfort zone.
Through the physical practice and breathing you will learn how to feel comfortable in uncomfortable position within yourself so it wouldn’t be as bad when someone is in your side control or mount and is trying to strangle you or do something much worse.
Whether you are just starting your BJJ journey or you are an experienced grappler Power Yoga will not only help to boost your rolling game (live sparring) but your life too. It will change the way your body and your mind feel.
Kirill Gron 1st degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt
300 HR Baptiste Power Yoga certified instructor
Owner and founder of Seela Yoga