Why Teach Yoga for Jiu Jitsu?

What is the difference between teaching yoga to jiu jitsu players and teaching yoga for jiu jitsu players?  Reading Bethany Eanes’ article made me think about my goals and how to tailor yoga for jiu jitsu.

  • Physical Imbalances: In jiu jitsu, we tend to be constantly pulling – whether to break our partner’s posture in guard or to finish a cross collar choke.  Constantly repeating the same kinds of motions can lead to imbalances or overuse injuries.  Adding back bends and exercises that strengthen the supporting muscles with a focus on how jiu jitsu players move may help prevent these kinds of injury.
  • Breath Awareness: Many people forget to breathe during tough or intense rolls.  I would like to help people transfer yoga’s emphasis on breath awareness to rolling.
  • Flexibility: I have heard many people joke that women and teens are impossible to americana because their shoulders are so flexible.  I’m not advocating increasing flexibility to avoid submissions.  But if your partner accidentally throws a submission too quickly having flexibility can give you a little extra time to tap without feeling it the next day.
  • Getting Women into Jiu Jitsu: This one is a little selfish.  I constantly wish I had more women to train with.  Men and women can both benefit from jiu jitsu and yoga.  But it can be intimidating for women to train when most of their training partners are men and it can be difficult learning new moves when most of your training partners are larger than you.  Similarly, it can be intimidating or feel unwelcoming for men to go to a yoga class filled with women.  Men have different needs in yoga than women but most classes are focused on recruiting and catering to women.  Members of the LGBT community have their own needs as well and may feel unwelcome in either setting.  I would like to build a community where yoga and jiu jitsu are accessible and welcoming to everyone.
  • Mindfulness: I roll best when I’m present in the moment.  If I let my mind wander or worry while I’m rolling I can’t focus on what I should be doing.  If I don’t relax I can’t feel what my partner is doing.  Yoga has helped me learn how to return to being mindful during exercise and I would like to teach this skill to others.
  • Helping Vulnerable Populations: Many  women, children, and members of the LGBT community come to jiu jitsu for self-defense or confidence either after bullying, harassment, or assault or to avoid those situations in the future.  I have experienced healing and self acceptance through yoga and I would like to share that so others can also heal and learn to accept themselves.
  • Maintaining the Community:  Injuries happen in jiu jitsu.  Some injuries may allow for yoga practice but not jiu jitsu.  Being able to see your teammates and still be part of the community while recovering can help during healing.

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