Benefits Of Yoga For Bjj – 10 Best Yoga Poses To Improve Your Grappling

You might have heard people talking about how yoga can help you get better at BJJ, or how BJJ can help you get better at yoga.

But what does this mean?

In this blog, we’ll discuss exactly what the relationship between these two disciplines is and how you can take advantage of it to improve your flexibility, strength, stamina, concentration, and overall well-being.

At the same time, if you’re already into yoga but haven’t yet tried BJJ, you might find some of its concepts in this blog useful in your own practice as well!

There’s no doubt that BJJ helps you become more flexible and overall more limber, but there are benefits to yoga that can be brought over to your jiu-jitsu training as well.

Here are some tips to get started on finding the right yoga routine for your specific needs.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a system of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India.

The most well-known forms of yoga are Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.

While there are many varieties, much of modern yoga combines postures, breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, concentration, and meditation.

Yogis believe that the practice of asanas (postures) with proper pranayama purifies body and mind – leading to a higher state of consciousness (samadhi).

For martial artists such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, yoga techniques like pranayama can be used to develop a focus on breathing during training sessions to prevent fatigue.

This can also help with recovery after a tough session at the gym.

How Yoga Benefits BJJ

If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chances are you’ve struggled with flexibility at some point or another.

Whether it’s pain in your hips or simply a general inability to get into certain positions, flexibility can be an issue.

Luckily, there is a simple solution: yoga.

In addition to being a great exercise on its own merits, yoga also has many benefits specifically for grapplers.

By practicing specific poses regularly, we can develop and maintain the flexibility that serves us well on and off of the mat.

With that said, here are seven yoga poses you should incorporate into your regular routine.

Yoga Helps with Focus

Yoga is all about focusing on your breathing and keeping your body in tune with your mental state.

It’s basically a low-impact form of meditation.

If you’re new to yoga, don’t let its name fool you:

Yoga is no more or less a religion than BJJ is.

You can be spiritual or not, and still, get a great benefit from doing yoga regularly—especially if you practice BJJ.

A healthy mind in a healthy body has real benefits on any sport.

Because yoga helps build concentration, it can make you a better grappler overall because even when you’re in an uncomfortable position.

Breathing calmly will help bring calm to your thoughts and help you stay focused on executing moves properly instead of panicking and giving up prematurely.

And, since yoga helps increase balance and stability, there are real ways that regular yoga can improve your abilities as a jiujiteiro.

For example, if you ever find yourself being passed guard or trying to escape pass guard against a particularly skilled opponent, having better balance and focus due to regular yoga could mean that passes are much easier for you to escape from.

Bottom line: Yoga might be just what your game needs.

Yoga And Stretching

Yoga is all about breathing, and as far as your BJJ goes, it’s probably a good idea to give your body a break every once in a while.

Yoga will also help increase your flexibility, which can decrease your chances of injury.

If you’re looking to improve on any moves that require flexibility, like leg-locks or triangle chokes, yoga could be just what you need.

Make sure you speak with an instructor before taking up yoga to see if it’s right for you; there are plenty of variations out there but not all of them are appropriate for BJJ practice.

Regardless, take some time to do some stretching—you might even find yourself spending less time focusing on counters than on defenses.

When in doubt: breathe!

Your mind needs it too! It’s hard to think clearly when you’re distracted by aches and pains.

Take 10 minutes away from training with your favorite stretches and meditation techniques.

Meditation is particularly helpful for relieving stress—which comes with its own set of ailments such as insomnia and headaches—and focusing your mind during sparring sessions (and tournament matches!).

Yoga Improves Body Awareness

Yoga is a fantastic way to improve body awareness, flexibility, and strength in your hips and torso.

Not only does yoga work through each muscle group individually, but it also helps you become more attuned to your body as a whole.

By working on improving body awareness and mindfulness of each muscle group, you’ll be better able to maintain proper form in every exercise and position.

If you’re looking to improve control over your movements during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, yoga is an excellent way to get started!

But why should yogis practice with BJJ practitioners?

Is there any benefit?

Yoga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are both excellent practices that help bring us closer to our bodies, allowing us to take our minds off of worries about daily stresses or even future events.

With their varying levels of intensity and slow movement, both yoga and BJJ have plenty of ways to help stress relief throughout training sessions…or even just leisurely time spent at home after class ends.

But perhaps there’s another reason they should pair up—because they complement one another quite well!

According to Yogamatters:

A 2008 study published in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine found yoga reduced anxiety associated with stressful situations at work compared with deep breathing exercises alone.

Yoga Builds Strength

The exercises in yoga push you to your limits and make you stronger. As an athlete, one of your goals is to increase strength.

Yoga will help you achieve that goal.

Building strength doesn’t just help with Jiu-Jitsu; it makes everyday life easier as well!

You’ll find yourself lifting heavier things and carrying them longer distances. This allows you to push harder during training and recover faster.

The increased strength also helps prevent injuries, which can make training even more difficult than it already is.

If you like physical activities but are worried about injuring yourself during workouts, yoga is a good way to build up strength while keeping your body healthy at the same time!

When building your workout routine, think beyond the gym. Incorporate some yoga into your schedule if you aren’t already doing so!

It could be exactly what you need to take your training program to another level.

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Yoga Improves Endurance

Your muscles, joints, and ligaments aren’t just there to add definition to your physique; they’re also integral parts of your body that help you move.

Yoga can improve flexibility and reduce soreness in BJJ practitioners. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine will help make you more flexible, which is important in combat sports such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

By practicing poses with a focus on flexibility, yogis can increase their range of motion while also boosting endurance.

Although it might be tough at first, it becomes easier over time because muscle memory remains long after you’ve stopped practicing a specific pose.

If you practice yoga regularly, then you’ll likely notice an improvement in endurance during rolling or live training sessions.

This can be particularly helpful if you find yourself constantly tired or out of breath when sparring against an opponent who isn’t tired or out of breath.

Before going hard against another player—for example, during submission holds—you should take a moment to recover by breathing deeply and moving slowly through some basic yoga poses.

With BJJ being an extremely strenuous sport, yoga is not only beneficial but recommended before hitting up the mats against another player.

You never know how demanding your opponent could be! So why not warm up beforehand?

10 Best Yoga Positions For BJJ

Yoga is an excellent way to get both your body and mind prepared for a big workout like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Whether you’re warming up, cooling down, or just trying to stretch out tight muscles, here are 10 of our favorite yoga positions specifically designed to help you improve your game. Grab a mat and try them all out!

  1. Downward Facing Dog: We start with one of our favorite yoga poses. Adho Mukha Svanasana stretches your shoulders, hamstrings, and back while also opening up your hips and preparing you for deeper twisting poses.
  2. Cobra Pose: This pose is great at opening up your chest as well as working on shoulder flexibility. Because it gets into your lower abdominals it can even make you feel lighter in advanced yoga sessions.
  3. Bow Pose: An intense spine stretcher that looks slightly easier than it actually is. You should be pretty flexible before attempting; failure to follow proper form will result in injury instead of benefit.
  4. Headstand: Another advanced yoga position that requires plenty of wrist and shoulder flexibility (the less flexible, the better). It improves blood flow to your brain and releases tension held in other parts of your body by creating more space in between bones. While many people think headstands are dangerous, they’re actually not if done properly—just don’t attempt them if you haven’t already mastered downward-facing dog first!
  5. Lunge With Knee Bent Forward Fold: A combination yoga pose that stretches your hamstring, hips, groin, and quads while giving some much-needed attention to your IT band (which BJJ practitioners often complain about).
  6. Downward Facing Dog Split On Chair Pose: Yoga isn’t only about being on the ground—it’s also useful when sitting! If you struggle with adductor stretching or hip flexors but love BJJ because of how amazing side control feels in practice then consider following through with these two combined poses.
  7. Child’s Pose: Not only is the child’s pose relaxing, but it can also give your knees some much-needed relief from compressing throughout training or even after an especially grueling day.
  8. Warrior II Pose: Not only does warrior II increase mobility in both wrists and ankles, but it also works wonders for increasing shoulder flexibility (something every martial artist could use!).
  9. Side Angle Stretch With Block Extension: One of the hardest yoga moves there is due to its unique lunge motion while maintaining balance and concentration. Don’t worry though—you can always skip past most versions of this yoga exercise!
  10. Crow Pose / Sphinx Pose: The best part about practicing yoga? When you’ve finished, it’s time to train! These two poses are a perfect setup for BJJ. First, you work on a more open body and breathing, and then you push forward with a crow pose to finish off with a nice pump. Do yourself a favor—take yoga class next time your schedule permits it! There’s no limit to what benefits you can gain.

When learning yoga poses, remember that being able to reach your leg behind your body doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t have an equal or greater amount of flexibility in front of your body.

So while it might look impressive to be able to hold a deep lunge, it doesn’t help you out much if you can’t walk normally afterward!

How Long Before I See Benefits?

One of the most common questions I hear from new yoga students is, How long before I see benefits?

And while it’s difficult to give a concrete answer, there are a few things you can do to get your body on board with yoga as quickly as possible.

The first thing you need to do is focus on your form. Being able to bend and twist doesn’t mean much if you’re doing it wrong.

Before you start trying any advanced poses (no handstands), make sure that your foundation is strong by practicing basic poses like forwarding bends, backbends, arm balances, twists, and planks.

Once you’ve mastered these basics, then feel free to incorporate more challenging moves into your routine.

Lastly—and probably most importantly—try not to get frustrated or discouraged when things don’t go perfectly or exactly how they seem in class or in YouTube videos.

You might have bad days when it feels like nothing goes right; try not to beat yourself up about those days because everyone has them!

How To Get Started With Yoga

Yoga is a great way to gain flexibility and prevent injury in grappling. Getting started with yoga can be confusing, though.

Here are a few guidelines to help you get started on your own practice.

Yoga is most commonly practiced on a mat, so consider getting one!

As yoga gains more popularity and acceptance as a serious form of exercise, mats have become less expensive.

The cost of a quality mat will vary depending on how thick it is and whether it has special features like sticky spots or strap loops built into it, but expect to pay at least $30 (and often upwards of $50) for an average quality one.

If you do decide to spend money on a new mat, I highly recommend buying one that’s made out of natural material–like rubber–rather than plastic.

An all-natural material will promote better balance and stability.

Make sure you’re practicing in bare feet too; just like wrestling shoes provide extra traction while training on a greased gym floor, socks offer extra grip on your yoga mat.

And don’t forget clothing; while yoga isn’t necessarily an athletic activity per se, it still requires quite a bit of movement around the joints and muscles.

It’s probably best to stick with loose-fitting clothes that let you move easily, which usually means something other than jeans.

Most practitioners wear light cotton t-shirts or tank tops during their sessions too.

Read this article I posted recently on what men should wear to yoga.

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I’ve been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 2 years now.

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