We know that over the last few decades a lot of people have been stepping on the mats to practice jiu-jitsu. Even if people don’t want to compete professionally, they are taking up the sport to stay fit.
But you will be surprised to know that an increasing number of professional BJJ athletes are taking up yoga as a key to improving their performance in jiu-jitsu.
You might think that BJJ and go can’t go well together because one is a fighting sport while the other teaches you to remain calm and achieve inner peace.
Well, there is a long list of reasons for practicing yoga for BJJ and how it can significantly improve your grappling skills.
Why Is Yoga Beneficial for BJJ?
Yoga and BJJ have a lot in common. The most important thing yoga can teach to jiu-jitsu practitioners is to not lose their cool when they roll.
If you are a beginner in BJJ, you are more likely to get frustrated every time you are tapped out. But anger can be of no use in BJJ. It’s all about keeping yourself calm so you can think clearly.
Let’s have a look at the relationship between yoga and BJJ
Both Require Great Balance and Flexibility
Escaping a guard, throwing in a submission, or sweeping your opponent all require great balancing skills or your opponent could easily take it as an advantage.
If you think that balancing is easy and you don’t need to practice it then try standing on one leg with your hand above your head.
Yes, if you have never practiced balancing exercises before then you won’t be able to stand in this position for long.
During jiu-jitsu, your body is continuously being moved from one position to another or even flipped upside down.
Under these situations no matter how hard you try to stay on your feet, you are more likely to land on the mat if your neuromuscular system is not efficient in balancing.
Through yoga, we put our bodies in difficult positions that require great balancing skills. The breathing and physical exercises strengthen our core and improve our reflexes.
While practicing yoga, we put a strong emphasis on our alignment and attention. Especially when we transition from one form to another in Vinyasa yoga, it requires exceptional balancing skills.
Flexibility is very important for protecting ourselves from injury while performing jiu-jitsu. If you have flexible joints then you are less likely to sprain your tendons and ligaments.
One of the major benefits of yoga is that it increases your flexibility. It might seem like yoga is only for highly flexible people but, in reality, yoga can increase your flexibility no matter how stiff your muscles are.
Great Muscle Endurance
By muscular endurance, we mean the ability of your body to sustain pressure or resistance for a long period.
You can imagine its importance when you are stuck in an amount and your opponent is trying hard to throw in a submission. But, due to your muscular endurance, you have time to think about what will be your next move.
During yoga, your body stays in certain positions for prolonged periods. This eventually builds your muscular endurance.
Other training regimens such as cardio can also give you muscular endurance but it would not be much beneficial for jiu-jitsu.
BJJ demands how long you could stay on a mat before tapping out and the best way to build this type of endurance is by doing yoga.
Yoga for BJJ has gained importance due to its great effectiveness in building muscular endurance that is required by every jiu-jitsu practitioner in the long run.
Teaches You Proper Breathing Techniques
You might not be aware of the importance of breathing in BJJ, but it’s equally important as your grappling skills if not more.
BJJ and yoga both require you to be calm. And, the best way to do this is by breathing through your nose.
Yeah, you heard it right. When you breathe your body is in a parasympathetic state and is relaxed. This allows you to think clearly and use any shortcomings of the opponent against them.
Yoga for BJJ teaches you all these breathing exercises. They are known as pranayama.
There are a lot of breathing exercises in yoga and all of them have different benefits. They can help in breath retention, remaining calm, and quickly making decisions.
Practicing Ashtanga and Vinyasa can be highly beneficial for body awareness and breath control.
Helps With Correcting Posture
A good posture is not only required in BJJ but it is needed to perform your routine tasks easily.
However, correct posture holds great importance in BJJ. You won’t be able to generate a maximum force if your spine is bent, a correct posture allows you to use your body efficiently.
Correction of Imbalances
BJJ practitioners spend most of their training time bent in a forward direction. This can eventually cause musculoskeletal imbalances.
Biologically it is also known as Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. It means that the body becomes adapted to imposed positions after some time.
Due to this reason, you start noticing imbalances in your body. And, to solve this problem yoga for BJJ steps in.
Yoga positions help in correcting muscle imbalances by strengthening the weaker ones and lengthening the tight ones.
Your posture will be corrected automatically once you deal with muscular imbalances.
Once your muscle imbalances are corrected, you will eventually improve your submissions as well because your opponent is more likely to pass a submission by taking advantage of your wrong posture.
Builds Mental Strength
We often hear that being strong mentally is very important, you should develop mental toughness but we never really know what it exactly means.
In the words of researchers and philosophers, mental toughness is a psychological ability that helps you to effectively resist your problems and stay consistent.
A person who is strong mentally can stick to a training pattern for long without losing motivation or confidence.
As a BJJ practitioner, you must be able to handle stress and give your best even under pressure.
When you are rolling with your opponent then you won’t be having any teammates to cheer you up and motivate you, unlike sports like football.
It’s 1 vs 1 and in such a situation you need to be mentally strong so that you are not carried away by the pressure from your opponent.
For building mental toughness, yoga comes in handy. You can positively channel your stress and build self-esteem when you practice yoga regularly.
Yoga for BJJ encourages you to give your best when you are in a fight, it clears any doubts from your mind and gives you the ability of self-control.
Stress is your biggest demotivator during a fight, it arises due to the fear of losing a match.
Practicing yoga compels your mind to focus on the positive side of your life, and kicks out the fear of losing.
When your mind starts to ignore external factors such as grief or loss then you can give your best performance in a match.
Best Yoga For BJJ Poses (Backed By Facts)
There are 7 major types of yoga and they include hundreds of different poses. Out of them, some are for increasing flexibility, building strength, losing weight, and much more.
We have shortlisted some of the best yoga poses to help you with improving your jiu-jitsu. Remember that you will only be able to get the benefits of yoga if you practice it regularly.
If you want to perform these poses effectively then practicing them in BJJ gear could improve the efficiency of your exercise.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
This is a basic pose in yoga, it effectively stretches your lower body and spine. When combined with breathing exercises, it can be therapeutic for hypertension and asthma.
The hero pose is also beneficial for improving your metabolism and relieving gas to get rid of a bloated stomach.
Benefits for BJJ
When you are stuck in the closed guard of your opponent then you try to set yourself free by dropping your knees on the ground, this pose is similar to it.
Through hero pose, you can build flexibility in your knees which is important when you try to pass the guard of your opponent.
How To Do It
- Sit with your knees on the mat, your calves should not be resting on your hips.
- Pull your feet back.
- Press the top of your feet into the mat.
- Keep your back straight.
- Stretch out your fingers and join your hands in front of your chest.
- Maintain this position for 60 seconds and maintain proper breathing.
Cobra Pose (BHUJANGASANA)
This is one of the best yoga poses to stretch your back and improve the flexibility of your spine.
The cobra pose is a full-body stretch, it stretches your chest, shoulders, and legs efficiently.
How is Cobra Pose Beneficial for BJJ?
As we practice BJJ, our back continuously stays in a rounded position, due to this your back muscles can be imbalanced.
The cobra pose stretches the back and strengthens the weak muscles so that you don’t end up having a hunched back.
Moreover, this position is also useful for defending against the triangle choke.
How to Do It
- Lie down flat with your belly on the mat, stretch your legs back with your toes out on the floor.
- Press your feet and thighs firmly into the floor.
- Press your palms into the floor and straighten to lift your chest off the floor.
- You should only lift till your navel region; the pelvic region should be in contact with the mat.
- Hold this pose for 15 to 20 seconds and breathe softly.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
The downward-facing dog pose is another yoga pose for a full-body stretch but it's more effective for building strength in the upper and lower body.
The downward dog relieves the pain of menstrual cramps, energizes the body as blood flow towards the brain is increased, and helps deal with headaches.
How Downward Facing Dog Is Beneficial For BJJ?
This position is effective if you are trying to dodge the attacks of your opponent. If you are flexible enough then you can also use this position to pass guard.
The other benefit of this position is that you will develop strength in your shoulder, arms, and core.
How to Do It
- Start on the floor, press your hands against the mat keeping them about 3 inches ahead of your shoulders.
- Your wrist creases should be parallel to the front edge of the mat.
- Press down with your fingertips and keep your knuckles grounded.
- Inhale and tuck your toes under, now exhale and push your hips back up.
- With every exhale, lift your hips as high as you can while sticking your hands and feet to the mat.
- You can also bend the knees one by one to engage the hamstrings more effectively.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
This yoga position is beneficial for stretching your hamstrings and other muscles of your legs. It also stretches your spine and stimulates the abdominal organs for improving digestion.
How Plow Pose Is Beneficial for BJJ
The plow teaches you to breathe in uncomfortable positions. For instance, if you are stuck in a position where your opponent is pressing your diaphragm then you will face difficulty in breathing.
This pose teaches you to breathe comfortably even in uncomfortable positions. During this pose, you keep your hips high so it can also be used as an open guard technique.
How To Do It
- Lie with your back on the mat and arms resting on sides.
- Lift your legs and back off the mat, the traps should stay with the mat.
- Lift your legs over your head and touch the mat with your toes.
- Press your arms firmly against the floor.
- Hold this position for several breaths.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
If you are feeling any pain in your lower back then the bridge pose can be highly beneficial for relieving it.
The pose gently stretches your quads, strengthens your hips and ankles. It can also be used to rejuvenate your legs after a tiring day.
How Bridge Pose Is Beneficial for BJJ
The bridge pose is one of the most effective yoga positions for strengthening your glutes. When you are rolling on a mat then you lift your body using power from your hips.
Hips are the powerhouse in jiu-jitsu. This pose helps in improving your hip escapes and refining any BJJ skills that require hip movements.
How to Do it
- Lie with your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Press your feet and on the floor as you lift your hips
- Continue lifting your hips as high as you can while sticking your feet and hands-on mat.
- Keep this position for 15-20 sec and focus on deep breathing.
Most of the positions in yoga are similar to that of BJJ, it proves the effectiveness of practicing yoga for BJJ.
Yoga teaches you to be calm and achieve inner peace. When practicing BJJ, having a calm mind is very important to think clearly or you will be tapped out in seconds.
Unlike other martial arts where you can take advantage by being a little aggressive, BJJ demands to believe in your skills and execute them with a cool mind.
Yoga can be a magic pill to improve your grappling skills. Either you are a beginner or a professional jujitsuka, you should give yoga a try.