Brazilian jiu jitsu is a martial art that requires a lot of physical strength, body control, coordination, and flexibility. But equally important, it requires mental focus and dedication.
To get to the point where you are a master of it, you have to work hard and use all the disposable means to improve your mind and body. One of the easiest ways is adding yoga or Pilates to your workout routine.
Pilates for Brazilian jiu jitsu has many benefits. It increases your range of motion and flexibility, improves balance, and gives you better movement control. It adds to body awareness too. Yoga can offer similar benefits and help you improve your BJJ performance.
Of course, how much you practice these additional activities influences the end results. Doing it too much can have the opposite effect.
You should let your body rest too and plan your trainings carefully. It would be the best to do it with guidance of certified instructors, at least in the beginning.
Here I will tell you more about all of it, and even list some very useful exercises!
Is Pilates or Yoga Good for [BJJ] Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Brazilian jiu jitsu is practiced by many people around the world, in both recreational and competitive level.
It is an excellent way of exercise because it develops both strength and stamina. To improve your skills, you have to work on many aspects of your mind and body.
Both yoga and Pilates can complement your BJJ workout routine. They can be used as a mild recovery exercise between two hard BJJ workouts, or as a way to improve some aspects of your physical and mental strength.
Actually, it is not just for BJJ but for all other martial arts, and many sports in general. Even professional athletes recognized the value of Pilates and Yoga in their career.
What Are The Benefits Of Pilates and Yoga for [BJJ] Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Both Yoga and Pilates for Brazilian jiu jitsu have many benefits. It is hard to say which one is better, and it can be very individual. If you are aiming towards improving your mental focus, yoga is for you. If you want to improve your core strength, then you should opt for Pilates.
These two activities may seem similar, and some benefits are equally good in both, however, there are some important differences too.
There are also different types of yoga and Pilates, and all offer a bit different end result. Here is the list that will give you a bit better overview and understanding of it.
Benefits Of Pilates
Pilates for BJJ offers many benefits and those are the following:
1. CORE STRENGTH – Pilates activates all your core muscles, even the smallest groups that are not activated during BJJ practice. These muscles can help you stabilize your core which is extremely important for BJJ. Movement starts in your core and gives you stable footing.
2. MOVEMENT CONTROL – Pilates is all about slow and controlled movement followed by proper breathing. Martial arts are fast and explosive, but if you don’t have complete control over your body, you will never get far. When you have that immense body awareness you will significantly improve your BJJ skill.
3. RANGE OF MOTION – Flexibility is connected with range of motion; however, range of motion can be described as an active flexibility. I will try to explain it in a simple way. Some people can do the split which means that their hips can get into that position, and they are flexible. But some can jump into it or do it by lifting their leg while standing up. Having your joints ready to move until their maximum extension but strongly and controllably is a key for successful BJJ practice. Additionally, it reduces possibility of injuries which are a possibility in martial arts. Range of motion gained by Pilates influences your tendons and ligaments and makes them stronger and more flexible. Yoga can also add a lot of flexibility however in a more passive way which is not as good for BJJ as this.
4. IMPROVED POSTURE – how you stand, and move, is everything in BJJ. You can’t do it properly with weak core and bad back. Pilates can significantly help your spine alignment and posture which will give you a lot of advantage in BJJ.
Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga for BJJ has just as many benefits as Pilates, but slightly different ones are the most prominent.
1. FLEXIBILITY – Yoga is excellent for flexibility, especially for beginners who lack of it. In order to control your body in most extended positions you firstly need to be able to extend them. Yoga will help your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles stretch and reach positions that you need. In addition to that, stretching helps you recover after BJJ practice. If you are new to BJJ and you are developing muscles you didn’t have before, yoga can help you build up some muscle mass while remaining flexible.
2. BALANCE – Pilates also gives a lot of flexibility and balance, but balance gained by yoga is a combination of both physical and mental balance that is very important for BJJ. Yoga has a lot of balance poses that can be held for a desired time and followed by regular breathing. In Pilates there is a lot of balance too, but not as challenging as in Yoga. Yoga can help you bring your balance to another level. Being balanced in BJJ gives you a lot of advantage.
3. FOCUS – BJJ is not just about physical fitness. You need a lot of focus and mental strength. You need complete control over your own body and mind, and you have to read the mind of your opponent in the ring. Yoga can bring you level of internal awareness you couldn’t imagine.
4. BREATHING – Breathing is everything in sports. Movement must be followed by breath, and both yoga and Pilates focus on that. Yoga is a bit stronger here as there are more breathing exercises.
What are the Best Poses / Exercises for [BJJ] Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? [And Why?]
Pilates or yoga for BJJ are as good as chosen positions you practice reaching a certain goal. There are some important positions in that you should know. All are beginners’ exercises that are suitable for everyone..
1. One leg circles – This exercise is excellent to stretch your hips, improve hip motion control and to engage some abdominal muscles. Size of the circle determines how much will you open up your hip.
2. Scissor Kick – This exercise works on leg stretching and core strengthening at the same time. It can be used as a warmup.
3. Teaser – this exercise works on your core strengthening, balance, and control. It is suitable for beginners with bent knees and for advanced users with stretched legs and a complete V shape formed with your body.
4. High plank to pike – this exercise is great to strengthen your core, stretch whole back side of your body, and increase movement of your shoulders.
5. Swimming – This exercise activates your back muscles and also adds to your back flexibility at the same time.
1. Childs pose – offers gentle relief and stretching of your lower back after a hard BJJ practice.
2. Lunge – It is a fairly simple pose that works as a hip stretching and a hamstring stretching exercise. It is also a great beginner’s balancing pose.
3. Pidgeon – Pidgeon also works on hip flexibility, however in a more outward rotating sense. It stretches the hip flexors which is important for many BJJ moves.
4. Two knee spinal twist – This pose can either be passive or active, depending on how fast you move from one side to another. It is excellent for stretching lower back, chest, upper back, and shoulders too. It is a stretch that works on the whole upper body, and it is good as a warmup before practice too.
5. Downward dog – This is the most popular and classical yoga pose that stretches all your back side of body. From calves and hamstrings, over your spine towards upper back and shoulders.
Keep in mind that there are a lot more challenging poses and exercises that can really test your body and mind, however, I can’t recommend those to beginners or inexperienced people without proper supervision. If you are advanced in BJJ, find a certified Pilates or yoga instructor that will create an exercise program based on your fitness level and desired results.
How Much Pilates or Yoga for Best Results in [BJJ] Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Pilates or yoga for Brazilian jiu jitsu should be practice regularly but not too much. Your body needs time to rest.
Both of these activities can be incorporated into your BJJ practice as a form of warmup or a cooldown after the main practice.
If you had some harder BJJ practice, you could do Pilates or Yoga in days between another BJJ practice as a form of gentle active recovery.
It also depends on how often you do BJJ and your fitness level. I would say that two times per week would be enough, in a standard class length of 45 minutes, on days when you are not practicing BJJ. And the results will come …
If you are practicing BJJ on a daily basis, then incorporate these exercises into the existing training.
You should always leave one day per week where you will rest completely without any exercises.
Are there any Famous Fighters / Athletes Who do Pilates or Yoga?
There are athletes (celebrities and models) in almost all sports that discovered benefits of Yoga and Pilates. Fighters are not different. Not all of them are from BJJ world, however thy are professionals in martial arts.
Here is a list of known fighters:
– Rickson Gracie
– Johny Hendricks
– Loyto Machida
– Andreson Silva
– Jason Day
– Jimi Manuwa
– Danny Castillo
– Darren O`Grooman
– Diego Sanchez
– Ricco Rodriguez
– Renato Sobral
There are more that could fit onto the list, but this short version shows you that all those fighters that come from various backgrounds like benefits of Pilates/Yoga.
Pilates for Brazilian jiu jitsu can have excellent effect on your jiu jitsu performance. It adds to flexibility, movement control, balance, and reduces possibility of injuries.
Yoga can have similar benefits too, especially if you are choosing exercises that can improve your BJJ performance.
If you have never done it before, try it! I assure you that you will notice a difference.