8 essential Yoga postures for BJJ & MMA

By Wongi

Yeah you work out but do you even Jitsu Bro? Do you roll? Spar? Word. So do I.

I also flow. Which is yogi lingo for hatha or vinyasa yoga. I've found the more I practice yoga, the better my martial arts become. Perhaps it is because yoga is a form of martial art, a technique of attack or defense against an enemy. Except in yoga the opponent is within. It's you versus your false self. Put 90 minutes on the timer. 

On the yoga mat you won't be getting punched, kicked or choked, but you will be pushed and forced to get better. For the past year I've had the privilege of introducing amateur and professional MMA practitioners to the art and science of yoga. It's my favorite class to teach because every student is an athlete (or trying to be). Usually an alpha male or female with energy to spare. Regardless of the type or level class, students are always impressed by the challenge and benefits yoga offers.  

Wongi with MMA athletes at Moncaio Brothers BJJ in Boca Raton FL

Wongi with MMA athletes at Moncaio Brothers BJJ in Boca Raton FL

As mentally and physically demanding as mixed martial arts are, there are few regimens like Yoga as effective at restoring and minimizing the damage inflicted by constant training. Whatever your discipline, yoga can help enhance your game. Here are a few poses to warm up and get familiar with:

1. Jathara Parivartanasana -Supine 'Belly' Twist- Lay down on your back. Take a moment to allow the spine to settle into the mat. Then bend both knees into your chest and use your opposite hand to guide both knees to the floor so that your thighs are perpendicular to the spine in a 90 degree position. Look in the opposite direction with your palm faced down. Breathe here for 1- 3 minutes and then switch sides. 

  • BJJ and MMA depend on spinal strength and stability 
    • Stretches back muscles and glutes
    • lengthens, relaxes and realigns the spine
    • hydrates spinal disks

2. Vasisthasana -Side angle plank- She performs it well. 

  • MMA integrates balance, strength and coordination of mind and body, everything planks offer
    • Intensifies focus and breathing
    • Strengthens wrists and core
    • Improves balance 

3. Bhujangasana- Serpent or Cobra Pose - Lay down on your belly with your legs straight behind you and palms faced down alongside your ribcage. Press the tops of your feet, thighs and pubis bone into the floor. On an inhalation press into your hands and slowly raise the chest from the floor. Squeeze your elbows and shoulder blades together and look up. Retain the posture for 7-10 breaths and release. Repeat 2-3 times.

  • Martial Artists are notorious for being uptight 
    • Opens the lungs and heart
    • Stimulates the abdominal organs
    • Stress reliever  

4. Balasana- Child's Pose- For a great in depth article click here 

  • Like to go forward a lot? This one will slow you down, so you can go faster. 
    • Stretches muscles, ligaments, tendons in knees 
    • Stretches hips, thighs, ankles 
    • Encourages strong and steady breathing 

5. Uttanasana - Standing forward bend or fold- Simple and effective. Stand with your feet hip distance apart so that your toes face forward and your feet are parallel like skies. Bring your hands to your hips and look forward.  With an active torso, an erect spine and straight legs, hinge at the waist and descend towards your feet. As you fold let your vision settle between your feet, grab opposite elbows and relax your breathing. Make sure your toes continue to face forward and as you 'hang' keep your heels on the ground but actively begin to shift the weight towards the balls of the feet. Breathe here for 30-60 seconds. 

  • All sorts of goodness for your lower half 
    • Strengthens the thighs and knees
    • Stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips
    • Reduces fatigue and anxiety

6. Parivrtta and Utthita Trikonasana- Revolved and resolved triangle pose- A Nice article on Trikonasana 

  • It's not a BJJ triangle but it's just as good to know
    • Stretches the hips, groin, thighs, hamstrings, chest, shoulders and spines
    • Strengthens things, knees and ankles 
    • Teaches core coordination 

7. Prasarita Padottanasana - Wide leg standing forward fold 'Prasarita twist'- This guy explains it better than I. 

  • Most of my MMA friends either have no spines or fused spines
    • Stretches and strengthens legs and spine
    • Enables shoulder and core rotation and coordination 
    • Promotes mindful breathing

8. Shavasana - Corpse Pose. Everyone's favorite. Lay on your back with the legs stretched out and the palms by your side face up. Get the space between your shoulder blades level, relax and close the eyes. Take this opportunity to be completely still and present. An athlete's success depends on his ability to embrace the present moment. To enter the ZONE. All the great fighter's know when and how to turn it on, they also know when to turn it off. Practice turning it off and saving it for when you really need it. Reserving your best for when you require it most. 

  • If you like to get punched in the face or choked you're a little nuts, this will help you chill out. At least for a couple minutes. 
    • Relaxes your brain and body
    • Relieves stress
    • Lowers blood pressure

If those asanas don't work for you, perhaps you need some more tantric yoga. Look up this guy...

 

Wongi is a sport specific yoga teacher and brazilian jiu jitsu blue belt. See more @iamwongi

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