It almost seems as if the arts of yoga & jiu-jitsu were designed to complement each other
Original article courtesy of Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood
There are so many similarities and mirrored truths between the two of them. It’s not surprising that they both have roots which are entwined with buddhism and ancient india.
Besides having been proven to alleviate depression, high blood-pressure and a host of other physical ailments, yoga will also help your bjj is many specific ways, several of which I have outlined below:
CORRECTION OF IMBALANCES
Jiu jitsu often causes poor posture and and skeletomuscular imbalances. The upper back is often rounded as you are holding onto your opponent, the hip flexors and psoas are usually tightened because the knees are tucked up towards the chest, and as for the neck and shoulders.
Regular practise of the various asanas and vinyasas is the best remedy I’ve found for this imbalanced state, due to their twofold effect of lengthening and opening the body. As an added bonus, many of your submissions will also improve. Very often your effectiveness with these movements is hampered by the imbalances mentioned previously, and you can see how addressing those with yoga will allow you to generate more power. Regular and consistent practice can also help with back pain.
Although you can get away without being flexible in jiu jitsu, it’s an attribute that’s unquestionably beneficial. The greater the range of motion in your joints, the more options you will have in each position. In fact, some parts of jiu jitsu will be completely inaccessible to you until you develop the required suppleness, the rubber guard being a good example.
INCREASED STRENGTH AND BALANCE
My first coach used to say ‘One of the best things a fighter can have is balance’. Over the years I came to understand just how true that was.Yoga is exceptional for developing balance. Many of the standing asanas are done unilaterally (on one leg), which not only improves stability but sport-specific strength as well.I’ve seen professional athletes challenged by the most simple of these postures. Mastering them will massively improve your top game by making you far harder to sweep. It’ll also improve throws and takedowns.
BODY AWARENESS AND BREATH CONTROL
One of the most valuable ways this is achieved is through breath control. Not only will the vinyasas teach you to coordinate your movement and breathing, but yogic techniques such as pranayama will enable you to engage your diaphragm and utilise your lungs to their full capacity. This will greatly improve your stamina during rolling.
POLISHING THE MIND
Besides all the numerous physical benefits, yoga has extensive, positive mental effects. Some of the more challenging asanas require immense concentration, and sychronizing the movement and breathing during vinyanasa cultivates a certain focus and stillness of the mind which is invaluable during the heat of a a difficult sparring match. I’ve also noticed that memorising the sanskrit names of the various asanas as well as their correct alignments has much overlap with learning bjj techniques.