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5 Yoga Poses That Will Improve Your Jiujitsu

Sebastian Brosche, Yoga Teacher, Norway

22 June 2016

Yoga has gone from mystic rituals in India to American style sweaty fitness classes in matter of just a few years. The question this article aims to answer is: What can yoga do for a BJJ player?

First of all, what is the ultimate goal in BJJ? For a majority of us it is to do BJJ for as long as possible. Jiu jitsu is not as taxing on the body as some other martial arts, but training hard for long periods of time will take an expensive toll on the body. This is where yoga can help the most. It will both help you recover more quickly from the effects that hard training has on your body and prevent injuries by keeping you mobile and flexible.
yoga for bjj stretch 1

Lizard Stretch with Footgrab.

Grab the foot with opposite hand, thumb up. Lower your hips and lift your chest. Move your hips side to side, up and down. Mix between pulling your foot to your butt, and pushing your foot into your hand. This is a superb pose for hip flexibility!
Since there are as many styles of yoga as there are martial arts, where should you begin? Your best bet is a specific and intelligently designed 30 minute yoga routine, intended to warm up before training or competing. A good yoga routine does not drain you for energy, but it gets you warm and more mobile than the conventional running-in-circles warm-up. Longer stretches with deep breathing are perfect when you make extra time for recovery, for example before you go to bed.
The benefits that many experienced grapplers notice after a few weeks on a yoga program is increased flexibility and range of motion, and an increased quality of breath. Even if you are as stiff as a rock, simply being consistent with the basic yoga poses will pay off with a compounding effect over time.
As a beginner in Yoga, you’ll already be familiar with two fundamental things that you will have already learned on the Jiu-Jitsu mats. They will help you both stay safe and improve quickly in Yoga.
Hamstring stretch with a belt
Lay flat, bottom knee bent. Loop your belt over the top of the foot. Keep your arms completely straight, and let the weight of the arms and shoulders pull on your hamstrings. Stay on one leg for a minimum of 3 minutes.
We all know how important technique is in jiu jitsu and it is similar in yoga. I would suggest starting with good guidance or tutorials to get a good grasp of the basic poses, which often repeat themselves. The second thing would be to not push yourself too hard! If you are stretching your hamstring using your belt as in the image above, and you feel like someone is submitting you, then the right thing to do is tap, and go easier on yourself. It is hard for beginners not trying to ‘spar with oneself’, but when you learn to be gentle and smart Yoga will give you more time on the mat.
Shoulder Stretch with a twist
Kneel down and grab your belt as wide as you can above your head. Let your arms go behind you, and adjust the grip so that the arms can hang straight back. Twist slowly from side to side. Do not let your neck hang forward! This is a great pose if you have a muscular torso.
Triangle stretch to the wall
Get close to the wall, and place your ankle above your knee. Let the weight of the butt stretch the outside of your hips. The foot on the wall makes this very relaxing for the back and arms. If you have bad knees, move the foot even further out to the side to avoid tension in the outer meniscus.
Neck and Torso stretch
This is a forward fold, turned upside down. Beginners can support the lower back with the hands or a ball/pillow. Breathing is hard here, but very important. This is a nice way to stretch your traps and neck. Avoid this if you have neck-pain.
..And that’s it for today. Please give these five poses a fair chance, by doing them two times a day for 5 days in a row. If you find it hard to do them on your own, then you should check out our library of videos where you get guided through every step of the way.

See you guys in the next article, or see you on the mat!

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