Yoga for Brazilian Jujitsu: My Journey

“A journey of a thousand submissions begins with the submission of your ego” ~ Unknown

When you bow onto the mat, it is a powerful moment. The bow is seen as an act of respect and honor. It reflects the inner- self, a check of the ego, a humble reminder that you are indifferent, creating a mindset of unity and trust. Trust is especially important when the Brazilian Jiujitsu or BJJ* practice delivers the knowledge and ability to impair your partner. Our partners need to trust us, and we equally trust that our partners will communicate how they are feeling, to avoid injury.

 In my few years of experience, I have seen most injuries occur when the student, no matter the belt, is eager and allows their ego to take over. The ego is fear based, so in a panic we trigger our bodies natural response to fear, our bodies prepare us to fight or take flight. When we trigger our fight or flight mode our bodies literally slow down digestion and other systems that are not needed to escape, it then increases our heart rate, increases cortisol (the stress hormone), and our bodies consume energy at a much faster rate, to give enough energy to escape or fight before the energy source is exhausted. Which is unsustainable when training and creates negative long term physical effects from the excess cortisol. 

 Our ego is supposed to protect us. It has been developed over time through natural selection and has helped our ancestors escape predators and life threatening incidences. Our ego is not something we want to get rid of, however we want to be able to communicate with it. It tells us areas that are hidden to our conscious, things we may not like about ourselves, it is also the competitive side to us.

 Did you know your ego would rather be wrong than admit it did not know something?  

 Here are some methods to help you communicate with your ego and prevent you from entering fight or flight mode when you are not in immediate danger:

1.       Have a regular yoga practice: The practice of yoga is a perfect counterpart to jujitsu. In jujitsu you battle with your opponent like a gambit during a game of chess, always thinking ahead of where our opponent might move and how we can counter and submit. In yoga that battle is fought within the mind. Yoga and BJJ do have this in common: Once we step onto the mat, we forget the world. Yoga teaches you to connect movement to breath allowing us to gain a greater control over our bodies, brings us to a higher state of awareness, and improves emotional intelligence. Begin your yoga practice today.

2.       Get sleep: Did you know that we never actually catch up on sleep? Once we lose sleep, we develop what’s called “sleep debt” meaning we do not get rid of all the adenosine (sleep hormone) that’s built up during the day. It will keep accumulating and this cannot be made up once lost. Our bodies need sleep to function. It is in sleep that our bodies repair and regenerate our bodily systems, such as our immune system. A sleep deprived person’s objective functions are impaired, while subjectively to them they may feel as if they are rested enough to function. Sleep deprivation negatively affects our decision making and behavior.

3.       Remember to breathe: Off the mat, in traffic, at work, or dealing with day-to-day stress leads to excess cortisol, disrupting sleep and digestion, among other issues. Taking time to breath and being mindful of your breath will help you control strong emotions, allowing you to respond instead of blindly reacting. Some problems look much smaller after you breathe through them and realize it’s not that bad and you are not in immediate danger.

4.       Reduce stimulants: Caffeine, alcohol, or other stimulants such as sugar, affect your ability to get restful sleep. These stimulants block adenosine receptors, meaning you never fully empty your adenosine compile and therefore will not enter the delta wave stage of sleep. The delta stage of sleep is where regeneration occurs. So, if you enjoy sugar, caffeine or alcohol, ask yourself when you wake up the next day if you feel well rested.

5.       Do shadow work: Shadow work consists of asking yourself questions about the parts of yourself that are hurt, triggered or seen as parts that you do not like about yourself. Here are some examples you can try when you are alone if willing:

a.        Do you view asking for help a weakness or strength? Why?

b.       What makes you self-conscious around others? Why?

c.       What do you dislike about yourself? Would you dislike someone else who was displaying these traits or attributes? Why?

d.       What in your life gives you the most purpose?

Thank you so much for reading. I love and appreciate each one of my readers and and my extended spiritual family from all walks of life.

Namaste ~ Ali

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