Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, is one of the fastest-growing martial arts in the world. The art teaches standing and ground-based grappling to submit to your opponent.
If you practice BJJ, you are well aware of its many benefits; BJJ is an excellent full-body workout that will improve your strength and mobility, as well as relieve stress.
If you want to take your game to the next level, read on to discover how practicing even a little bit of Yoga for BJJ can dramatically improve your abilities.
How Yoga Will Hugely Benefit Your BJJ Game
Yoga is a great way to improve your BJJ game. While not a martial art, Yoga has influenced many of the most famous martial arts in the world today. However, for BJJ practitioners, there are several specific benefits that Yoga can bring to their game:
- Breath Control: Controlling your breath is vital in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you cannot control your breath, you will get tired and be unable to focus. Yoga is a fantastic way to train yourself to focus on your breath because it is necessary to perform complex poses properly. If you find yourself losing energy early on in a roll, trying some Yoga can be a great solution.
- Flexibility: BJJ requires incredible flexibility, especially if you want to survive submissions such as the armbar. Yoga improves your flexibility in many ways by slowly expanding your range of motion through a variety of poses.
- Warm-Up: Yoga is a fantastic way to warm up for BJJ. Just 15 minutes of Yoga before class can wake up your body. You can also focus on specific parts of your body through various poses. For example, if you have tight hamstrings, practicing the Head-to-Knee Pose can be a great way to alleviate this tension.
- Prevent Injuries: If you practice BJJ, you will be aware that there is a small risk of injury. By practicing Yoga, you may avoid some of the most common injuries. This is because Yoga warms up the body, improves flexibility, and develops smaller muscles that may otherwise be hard to reach.
- Lowers Cortisol Levels: Cortisol is the stress hormone. If you roll with too much cortisol, you are more likely to be tense and get injured. Yoga dramatically lowers cortisol levels, making it a great way to cool down after BJJ class.
The 10 Best Yoga Poses for BJJ Game
If you want to start practicing some Yoga to improve your BJJ, start by focusing on the ten yoga for bjj poses below.
1. The Cobra Pose
If you find that you struggle with pain in your lower back, then you should practice the Cobra Pose. The Cobra Pose is an excellent way to open up your spine and lower back, as well as some of the muscles in your chest. To do this pose, you will need to.:
- Begin on your stomach. Keep your hands next to your ribcage.
- Rotate your inner thighs upwards before pushing your toes into the floor mat.
- Make sure you have no tension in your shoulders as you press both hands into the floor. Raise your shoulders and heads upwards without disconnecting your hips.
2. Child’s Pose
The Child’s Pose is a relaxing pose that is a great chance to reset in class. This pose gives you a chance to relax and clear your mind of any of the day’s troubles. To do this pose, you need to:
- Kneel. Keep your thighs on top of your calves.
- Push your arms forward, allowing your upper body to stretch forward.
- Push your head into the mat gently and hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
3. Leg Pulls/Leg to Side with Yoga Strap or Gi Belt
Yoga straps are some of the most underrated pieces of Yoga equipment. However, if you practice BJJ, your belt will work just as well for this pose. This pose is a fantastic way to stretch out your legs, especially your hamstrings and calves. To perform this pose, you will need to:
- Press your foot into your belt. Hold onto your belt tightly.
- Slowly pull your foot upwards towards the ceiling.
- Get your leg to its maximum extension before letting it fall out to the side.
- Hold these positions for at least between 5 and 10 breaths.
4. Pigeon Pose
To practice BJJ properly, your hips need to be opened up and ready to train. The Pigeon Pose is one of the best poses in Yoga to open up your hips, making it a fantastic option for BJJ practitioners. To perform this pose, you will need to:
- Start in the Downward Facing Dog Pose. Bend your right knee as you move your body forward.
- Point your right knee out and to the left. End by placing your right calf on the floor.
- Square your hips and hold this position for 30 seconds.
5. Plough Pose
If you find yourself on guard frequently, then practicing the Plough Pose is a fantastic way to prepare your body for the pressure this pose puts you in. It stretches out the spine and lowers back, making it excellent for BJJ practitioners. To do the Plough Pose, you will need to:
- Lay down on your back with your arms down by your side.
- Bring your legs and hips up to the ceiling by activating your core muscles.
- Keep your legs straight while bending at the hip. Your goal is to press the balls of your feet into the floor.
- Keep your hips above your shoulders and keep a gap between your chin and chest.
- Hold this position for at least one minute.
6. Knees to Chest Pose
If you need to work on your shrimping, then practicing the knee-to-chest pose might be a good start. This pose also has a lot of benefits beyond BJJ, including a reduction in lower back pain and reduced indigestion. This pose is simple to perform and involves the following steps:
- Lay on the flat of your back with your legs straight below your hips.
- Pull both knees to your chest until you feel a stretch in your back.
- Hold this position for between 5 and 10 deep breaths.
7. Two Knee Spinal Twist
The Two Knee Spinal Twist is an excellent way to develop flexibility in your back and hips, which is necessary to practice BJJ safely. This pose will also open up your chest and upper body. For BJJ practitioners that want to practice this pose, there are a few steps to perform this pose:
- Lay down on your back with your feet on the ground.
- Reach your arms out to the side. Bend your legs and lift your feet off the floor. You want to end up with your calves parallel to the floor.
- Keep your legs bent and rotate them to the left. Hold for between 5-6 breaths before repeating this movement in the opposite direction.
- Repeat this sequence at least 5 times.
8. Camel Pose
The Camel Pose, or Ustrasana in Sanskrit, is one of the best Yoga poses for BJJ practitioners that need to improve their spinal flexibility. The Camel Pose is also a great way to develop the muscles in your core, muscles which are also vital for BJJ. To perform the Camel Pose, you need to:
- Start in a kneeling position. Breathe in deeply and allow your chest to open up.
- Grab your feet and push your hips forward. As you do so, allow your head to fall back without putting any tension on your neck.
- Breathe in deeply for at least 5 breaths.
9. Downward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Dog is fantastic for BJJ practitioners; this develops arm, leg, and core muscles, as well as improves mental focus. To perform the Downward Facing Dog pose, you need to do the following steps:
- Begin in a kneeling plank.
- Point your pelvis and tailbone upwards and push your feet into the floor.
- Push your thighs backward but keep your knees bent.
- Keep everything from your hands up to your shoulders in a single line and press your hands into the floor.
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds if you can.
10. Crescent Lunge
This is an excellent pose for improving your yoga practice. There are several benefits to the Crescent Lunge. By doing this pose, you improve your balance and strengthen the supporting muscles around your knees. To do this pose, you need to:
- Increase the length of your stance by moving your left foot forward. End with your feet about one mat length apart.
- Bend your knee forward to lower your stance. Raise your hands above your head.
- Stay in this position for between 5 and 10 breaths.
- Once you have done so, switch sides.
How to Get Started Doing Yoga for BJJ?
Even if you are a seasoned BJJ practitioner, Yoga is a very different type of exercise. The change in pace and the way it challenges you to hold positions means that it can challenge even experienced Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. If you are starting Yoga, keep the following tips in mind:
- Start Slowly. Yoga is a demanding art that will push your body in ways very different from your BJJ training. As such, train slowly and listen to your body. Don’t rush a pose or extend past your limits early on and enjoy the process of learning.
- Find a Good Instructor. Just as in BJJ, you need a good instructor to improve. Look for instructors you find engaging and approachable. As well as this, look into small beginner classes so that you can get specific corrections early on to avoid forming bad habits.
- Prepare Your Equipment. Before attending class, make sure you have everything you need, including light clothes, plenty of water, and a mat.
- Avoid Overtraining. It can be easy to overtrain yourself, especially if you think of Yoga as just a way to warm up for a BJJ class. Yoga is deceptively tough, even for experienced athletes. If you want to train both, make sure not to have a BJJ and a Yoga class on the same day, as you risk burning yourself out.
- Be Consistent. If you want your body to adapt to and gain the benefits of Yoga, you need to practice yoga consistently. Attend classes at the same time and try not to miss any classes. This will allow you to build up your Yoga skills much more quickly than going only intermittently.
What are the Best YouTube Channels for Learning Yoga for BJJ?
If you are looking to practice Yoga to improve your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game, then have a look at these YouTube channels. Every channel we will discuss has fantastic guides, follow-along classes, and other content for BJJ practitioners interested in trying Yoga.
- Fightmaster Yoga: Fightmaster Yoga, while focused on traditional Yoga, has many excellent follow-along programs for BJJ practitioners that want to give Yoga a try. Check out this video on how to use Yoga to move better in BJJ.
- Yoga for BJJ: Yoga for BJJ is the best YouTube channel for practitioners that want to fully integrate yoga into their training regime. On this channel, you will find short guides on stretches and poses that can help improve various BJJ movements and full follow-along classes.
- Breathe and Flow: This channel provides an excellent balance between Yoga and BJJ. On this channel, you will find many stretching and warm-up routines, specifically designed for BJJ. If you want to practice both but don’t know where to start, Breathe and Flow is an excellent place to start.
How Often Should You Do Yoga for BJJ?
When it comes to training Yoga alongside BJJ, you need to balance the benefits of both (increased strength, flexibility, better mental health, etc) with the costs (physical exhaustion, possible injuries, etc). Eventually, you will reach a point of diminishing returns, where the costs of going to another class outweigh the benefits.
The best way to practice Yoga is to do a little and to do it often. For example, while going to an hour class once per week is excellent and will improve your BJJ, two 30-minute classes may be more beneficial. This is because your body will be fresher when you practice for these 30 minutes, meaning you will retain more information, improving your Yoga in the long run.
Useful Yoga Accessories for Your BJJ class
Neither BJJ nor Yoga requires that much equipment to do properly. However, if you are interested in taking your game to the next level, purchasing just a few pieces of equipment might be a good idea. Some excellent pieces of equipment you should consider buying include:
- Yoga Blocks: If you are new to Yoga, purchasing some high-quality Yoga blocks may be a good idea. Yoga Blocks help beginners and veteran Yogis with challenging poses by practically extending their arms and legs, giving them the support to practice new poses. For BJJ practitioners, these blocks can make the transition from BJJ warm-ups to Yoga warm-ups much easier.
- Yoga Mat: The Yoga Mat is, in truth, the only piece of equipment that is necessary to practice Yoga. Mats help Yogis perform poses by improving their grip and cushioning their limbs. If you want to practice Yoga but have some injuries from BJJ, purchase a high-quality mat with enough cushioning to support you.
- Yoga Straps: If you need to improve your range of motion, you should consider buying some Yoga Straps. Straps improve your range of motion by stretching out your muscles. For new Yogis, Yoga Straps are probably a good investment.
- Towels: Yoga is a sweaty activity, especially Hot Yoga. Due to this fact, getting some towels is a great idea. Towels are also a great investment for your BJJ class.
Practicing Yoga is a fantastic way to improve your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. By practicing yoga a few times a week, even for only 20 minutes at a time, you can drastically increase your flexibility, develop your strength, and reduce your chances of getting injured.
However, you must manage your time and energy effectively to avoid overtraining and putting your body under excessive strain.
If you know about any other benefits Yoga has for BJJ practitioners, make sure to let us know in the comments below.