If you practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), you know how demanding it can be on your body. You need strength, flexibility, endurance and mental toughness to grapple with your opponents. But you also need to take care of your body and prevent injuries. That’s where yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu comes in.
From legends like Rickson Gracie and greats like Gordan Ryan to popular practitioners like Joe Rogan, yoga and stretching is a staple for people who train BJJ.
But not all yoga styles are the same. Some are more suitable for BJJ than others. In this article, we’ll explore the best yoga styles and poses for BJJ practitioners. We’ll also give you some tips on how to begin to incorporate yoga into your training routine.
The Best Yoga Styles for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
There are many different types of yoga, each with its own characteristics and benefits.
What style you choose will depend on may factors, including personal preferences and available yoga classes in your area.
However, here are some of the best yoga styles I found for BJJ practitioners:
This is a general term for any yoga style that involves physical poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana).
Hatha yoga is a good choice for beginners or anyone who wants to learn the basics of yoga. It can help you improve your alignment and flexibility.
This is a dynamic style of yoga that involves flowing from one pose to another in sync with your breath. Similar to moving from one position to another in BJJ.
It helps you improve your coordination, agility as well as endurance. It also enhances creativity in your body movement.
Vinyasa yoga is a good choice for intermediate or advanced practitioners as it challenging both physically and mentally.
You can also try power yoga, which is a western style of yoga that uses the poses and flows from vinyasa yoga.
This is a passive style of yoga that involves holding poses for several minutes at a time.
Yin yoga is a good choice for anyone who wants to work on their flexibility and recovery. I find it a nice contrast after a period of intense BJJ training.
It’s a great style to get a stretch in your deep tissues, release stress, tension and calm your mind.
This is a gentle style of yoga that involves using props (such as blankets, bolsters, blocks) to support your body in comfortable poses.
Restorative yoga is a good choice for BJJ practitioners who wants to heal and rejuvenate their body and mind. It will help you reduce inflammation and pain.
This is a style of yoga that involves a series of power poses that are linked by breath and movement.
It’s dynamic and energizing. Ashtanga yoga is great for strength because of the challenging poses.
It also cultivates your mental toughness. This helps you develop a warrior mindset and a positive attitude for BJJ. You have to try it to understand, you’ll find poses and sequences are harder than they look.
Bikram or Hot Yoga:
This is a style of yoga that involves practicing in a heated room (around 40°C or 104°F).
Hot or Bikram yoga is a good choice for anyone who wants to sweat, detoxify and challenge their limits. It can help you improve your flexibility, strength and metabolism.
Ways to Use Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners
There are many different ways to add a yoga practice for BJJ…
Use Yoga for BJJ as a Warm-Up
You can do yoga before a BJJ session . It can help you prepare your body and mind for the upcoming challenge.
Warm-up poses typically include poses that activate your core, stretch your spine and mobilize your joints.
Some examples of poses for a warm-up are:
This is a pose that involves moving your spine between flexion and extension. It can help you warm up your spine, neck, shoulders, and hips.
Downward-facing dog pose:
This is a pose that involves lifting your hips up and back while keeping your arms and legs straight. It can help you stretch your hamstrings, calves, back, and shoulders.
This is a pose that involves stepping one foot forward and lowering your back knee to the ground. It can help you stretch your hip flexors, quads and groin.
This is a series of poses that involve moving from standing to forward bending to plank to cobra to downward-facing dog and back to standing.
It can help you warm up your whole body, increase your blood flow, and synchronize your breath and movement.
Yoga for BJJ as a Cool-Down :
You can use yoga after a BJJ session.
It can help your body and mind recover from the exertion, which means you will be ready for your next session fully fit.
Cool-down poses includes poses that relax your muscles, joints and nervous system.
Some examples of poses for a cool-down are:
This yoga pose involves kneeling on the floor and resting your forehead on the ground or a prop. It can help you relax your back, hips and shoulders. The child pose also helps you change your mindset from your training back to everyday civilian mindset. You can also use the more advanced yoga mudrasana, if you have the flexibility. A similar you pose you can try is the standing forward bend.
This is a pose that involves bringing one shin forward and stretching the other leg back. It can help you stretch your glutes, piriformis and outer hips.
This yoga pose that involves lying on your back and bringing one knee across your body while keeping your shoulders on the ground. It twists and loosens your spine, massages your internal organs and releases tension.
Legs Up the Wall:
This is a pose that involves lying on your back with your legs resting on a wall or a prop. It inverts your blood flow, reduces swelling and also calms your nervous system.
Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as Recovery :
These are poses you can do on your rest days or when you feel sore, stiff or tired.
They can help you heal your body and mind from the stress of training. Recovery poses promote blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and tissue repair.
Some examples of poses for recovery are:
This is a pose that involves lying on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees open to the sides. It opens your chest, hips and inner thighs.
This is a pose that involves lifting your hips off the ground while keeping your feet and shoulders on the ground. It strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, lower back and core.
Thread the Needle:
This is a pose that involves lying on your back and crossing one ankle over the opposite thigh. Then, you thread one arm through the gap between your legs and grab the back of the other thigh. It’s a great stretch for your your outer hips, IT band and lower back. It also looses and massages your shoulders.
To do this pose, lie on your back and grab the outside edges of your feet or ankles. Then pull your knees toward your armpits and rock side to side. This pose stretches your inner thighs, groin, lower back and sacrum.
Tips Before you Start Doing Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate yoga into your BJJ routine. You can do it before or after training, on rest days or as a recovery practice.
You can also vary the intensity, frequency and style of yoga depending on your schedule and preferences.
Here are some tips on how to start to incorporate yoga for BJJ into your routine:
If you are new to yoga, start with short and simple sessions (10-15 minutes) once or twice a week.
Gradually increase the duration and frequency as you get more comfortable and confident.
Although it is ideal to join a yoga class with a qualified yoga instructor, and i recommend you do. It is not always possible. You can use online resources and classes instead until you have the time go to a yoga class in person.
Listen to Your Body:
Yoga should feel good and be beneficial for your body and mind.
Don’t force yourself to do poses or styles that cause pain or discomfort. Modify or skip poses as needed.
Use props or supports to make poses more accessible or comfortable. Take breaks or rest when you need to.
Remember you are using yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to enhance your grappling. Don’t let yoga take over, I’ve seen it happen!
Yoga for BJJ works best when you practice it regularly and consistently. Try to find a time and place that works for you and stick to it.
Make yoga part of your routine and habit. You’ll see more results and benefits over time.
Adding Yoga for BJJ should be enjoyable and fun for you. Don’t take it too seriously or compare yourself to others. Leave that for the BJJ mat not the yoga mat.
What are the Benefits of Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Yoga is a great complement to BJJ because it helps you improve your mobility, balance, breathing and recovery. It also helps you calm your mind and focus on the present moment.
Jiu jitsu shares similarities with yoga techniques used in a yoga workout.
Yoga can make you a better BJJ practitioner in many ways:
Yoga for BJJ Improves Your Flexibility and Range of Motion.
Practicing Yoga for jiu jitsu stretches and loosens your muscles and connective tissues. This can help you move fluidly on the mat. You will also avoid injuries and recover faster if you have them.
Yoga Enhances Your Strength and Stability.
Yoga poses challenge your core, upper and lower body as well as balance. This will help you develop functional strength and stability that can translate to better performance in BJJ.
Doing Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Boosts Your Endurance and Breathing.
Yoga teaches you how to breathe deeply and rhythmically. This will improve your cardiovascular fitness and oxygen delivery to your muscles.
You will also be able to regulate your stress response and stay calm under pressure, hugely valuable when you are pinned by a heavier opponent.
Breath control is vital for BJJ.
Look how Royce Gracie stayed calm when he was pinned under Dan Severn for several minutes. Eventually tapping him out with a triangle choke. You can develop the same ability with consistent yoga practice.
We’ve all seen Rickson Gracie doing is his breathing exercises in the classic documentary Choke. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.
Go here for a yoga breathing technique that improves your lung power.
Yoga for BJJ Sharpens Your Focus and Awareness.
Yoga trains you to be mindful of your body and breath. This can help you improve your concentration and attention span. When you have mindful awareness you can tune out distractions and tune into your intuition.
Rickson Gracie often speaks about using your intuition and awareness to flow from one position to the next.
Doing Yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Relaxes Your Mind and Body.
Doing Yoga for BJJ is a Winning Combination
Yoga is a powerful ally for BJJ practitioners who want to take their game to the next level.
By incorporating yoga into your training routine you will synchronise your breathing and movement, which will make you a calm but powerful grappler.
The breathing exercises will also improve your mental clarity, focus and resilience.
Doing yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not a fad or a gimmick. It is a proven method that has been used by many top-level athletes and coaches, such as Rickson Gracie, Eddie Bravo, Ryan Hall and Sebastian Brosche.
If you want to join them and reap the benefits of yoga for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or for any of the other martial arts, start today and see the difference for yourself.