The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word “yuj,” which means to yoke, or to unite. The most common form of yoga practice in the Western World is Hatha yoga, which includes both the physical practice of asanas (poses) and connecting it with the discipline of the mind through pranayam (breath control), hence the definition of the word meaning “to yoke.”
While poses are a big part of your yoga practice and flexibility can certainly be beneficial to your Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Muay Thai training, yoga is not truly about how flexible you can become. Yoga is about practicing discipline by focusing on your breath to release the obstacles of the mind that hold you back from achieving your body’s true potential. The practice of yoga goes hand-in-hand with both jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai training for several reasons.
The breathwork you learn through yoga can be transcribed into your jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai training to increase both your endurance and stamina. The pranayam aspect of yoga teaches you to breathe deeply and increase your lung capacity throughout your yoga practice, especially in uncomfortable poses. That is when breath control is the most important.
The same can be said in your jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai training. The breath control practiced in yoga begins to come more naturally and, when put into difficult holds and positions in jiu-jitsu and movements in Muay Thai, this breath can help you outlast the endurance of your partner. Rather than focusing on how badly you want to get away from danger, you slow down your heart rate through breathwork and learn how to strategically focus on what you are doing instead of panicking and reacting in “fight or flight” response. This control over your breath can get you through stressful situations, both physically and mentally.
With a consistent yoga practice, you learn to control your mind and focus on the present. You leave whatever is going on outside of the room, off of your mat, even outside of your body and just focus your awareness on what is going on within you and only you, not anybody else in the room. That kind of self awareness is a key aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. To become aware of your own movements, what your body is capable of and what you can withhold will take you far in your training and prevent you from injury.
Another benefit of yoga that makes it a great counter-practice to BJJ and Muya Thai is that in yoga, you are often taught to take up as much space as possible with expansive movements, and lengthen throughout every inch of your body. In BJJ and Muay Thai, however, your center of gravity is more dialed in and the positions are more contractive and protective to keep your opponent from taking over control of your movements or your openings.
Too much of the same kind of movement can be detrimental to your physical being, so you need the combination of these two different types of movements to bring harmony to your body. To work towards the fullest expression of asanas in yoga, core and balance are essential, and these qualities are just as important in BJJ and Muay Thai. Without a strong core and the ability to find your balance in compromising positions, you lose your posture and give up the ability to take control over both your own body and your opponent’s body.
Yoga, jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai are beneficial practices on their own, for both your body and mind, but put together, you have a more well-rounded and powerful practice.
Saturday Yoga with Athena Blackwood
Every Saturday 9am-10am at Kogen Dojo
549 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd, Severna Park, MD 21146
Athena Blackwood studied Yoga at Charm City Yoga (now YogaWorks). Athena’s passion for teaching yoga comes from the desire to inspire others to not only live a physically healthier lifestyle, but also an emotionally healthier lifestyle by guiding them to connect mind and body through yoga.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” ~ Rumi
$100 for 3 Months or $15 Per Session