Yoga for BJJ Teacher Training

Yoga For BJJ Teacher Training Course: A Review

Marion Davidson
November 2020

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is often referred to as “the gentle art,” but if you’ve trained before, you know that your body can take a beating. Personally, I wake up the day after a hard training with stiff, achy muscles and covered in bruises. While Yoga for BJJ can’t help with the bruises, it can help improve your jiu jitsu game. It can improve your flexibility and balance, prevent injuries, and help you recover from tough training sessions. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Yoga for BJJ Level 1 Teacher Training Course (thank you Women Who Fight and Yoga for BJJ!). If you want to hear more about the training course, keep reading.

Teacher Training Course – The prep

The course took place over two weekends in October, but my training began almost two months before that. I received access to the online course curriculum at the end of August. By having access to the lessons more than six weeks in advance, I was able to plan my training and study time around my busy schedule. As a full-time PhD student with a part-time job, I could not be more grateful for this.

The curriculum was well structured and the online platform was easy to use (even for someone like me with some rough IT skills). I spent the weeks before the live training sessions completing yoga classes and taking detailed notes. There were videos on the warm-up, full class, and cool down, as well as videos that broke down all of the poses and sequences. And if that didn’t make you feel prepared to teach classes, there was more. In addition to information about what to teach, there was a large chunk of information about how to teach. They discussed common challenges you’ll face as an instructor and how to combat them, how to manage your time and what to do if you have students with injuries.

There was a ton of information included in the course curriculum. Despite this, I never once felt overwhelmed during the learning process (this is not something I can say about my PhD studies, so thank you Sebastian for giving me some room to breathe). All of the videos and pages of information that were included were needed to make sure that I was completely prepared to teach my own classes. I never once watched a video and thought “this is a waste of my time.” Instead, every page of information was applicable to teaching a solid Yoga for BJJ class. There was no unnecessary fluff (that’s my word, Sebastian prefers a word that starts with ‘bull’ and rhymes with knit)

Yoga for BJJ

Teacher Training Course – The live sessions

The live sessions were completed virtually over Zoom. Through small breakout rooms, we were able to practice teaching the classes with other instructors. Everyone I met in the breakout rooms were lovely, but more importantly, they were prepared. They came to these sessions having completed the course curriculum ahead of time with notes about what they would be teaching, (thanks for that everyone!). This way, we could focus on our actual teaching skills while we had the time with Sebastian, Adam, and Sarah.

The live sessions also gave us the opportunity to ask questions. Questions about the poses, movements, and sequences. Questions about teaching classes. But also, questions about specific movements for ourselves. We were able to get direct feedback from Sebastian, Adam, and Sarah about our own bodies in our own yoga practice. And in my opinion, the more we understand ourselves and our yoga practices, the better teachers we are.

The Yoga

Now let’s talk about the yoga itself. The first part of the instructor training was all about the warm-up class. Typically, a standard jiu jitsu warm-up consists of things like running, high knees, side shuffles, jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups, bridges, forward and backward rolls, and similar. Are these all good movements? Absolutely! But is this the best sequence of movements to use as a warm-up for a jiu jitsu class? For the morning classes where you just rolled out of bed to the evening classes where you’ve been sitting at a desk for eight hours, this type of warm-up may not be ideal. So instead, Yoga for BJJ has designed something different. Keeping in mind that this may be your first real movement of the day, the Yoga for BJJ warm-up is structured to be gentle in the beginning while finishing with movements that will bring heat into your body. By being physically prepared and warmed-up, we’ll also help reduce our risk of injury (especially if we’re not as young as we used to be- sorry dad, this one’s for you). Less injuries means more time on the mat (and more time for my dad to beat me up for calling him old).

The second part of the training was about the full Yoga for BJJ class. With a quick google search and you’ll find countless articles about the benefits of yoga. Yoga has been shown to improve your flexibility, balance, strength, body awareness, and breathing control, to name a few. All of these benefits will help athletes in their particular sports. And if this wasn’t enough, Yoga for BJJ went ahead and created a class specifically for jiu jitsu athletes. The Yoga for BJJ full class is designed to accompany your weekly jiu jitsu training. By taking class and improving your flexibility and balance, you’ll also be improving your jiu jitsu.

The Personal Benefits

Since completing the Yoga for BJJ Level 1 Instructor Course, I’ve seen some personal benefits. To start, of course, I am now a certified instructor. This means I’ll be able to teach classes, which I love doing, and gain some extra income. But the benefits are so much more than monetary.

Since becoming an instructor, I now do Yoga for BJJ a few times a week. When you sign up for the instructor training, one of the perks is a free year membership to yogaforbjj.net (if you don’t have a subscription, I say you need one). By watching these videos and practicing regularly, I’ve seen some personal improvements.

I’ve noticed that my flexibility has improved, as has my mobility and strength. Being in lockdown here in London has been rough for me. But Yoga for BJJ has helped me improve my self-discipline and get me back on a more normal schedule. My quality of sleep has improved, as has my willingness to work out at home and make healthier food choices. I’m more motivated to take care of myself, both physically and mentally. As an instructor, I now have a greater knowledge of how to actively recover from my other workouts, beyond just static stretching. And I particularly enjoy the Yoga for Desk Rats video from yogaforbjj.net. As a university student, I spend most of my day sitting in a chair typing away at my laptop, which results in an achy back, sore shoulders, and tight hip flexors. But I’ve learned how easily this can be improved if I take just 10 minutes to myself and do a little yoga. I’ve also found that on days I do Yoga for BJJ, I’m calmer, less anxious, and less stressed, even though my workload hasn’t changed. If you’re at all interested in any of things, you should try it.

Yoga for BJJ logo

Some Big Takeaways

I left this course confident in myself and my abilities, prepared to teach solid Yoga for BJJ classes. But beyond that, there were three ideas Sebastian discussed that really stuck with me.

The first idea that hit me was Sebastian’s thoughts on “body bias.” Everyone’s body has different proportions. Some people have long torsos and short limbs, others have the opposite. As a result, people will move differently. Despite this, I’ve heard in several different yoga classes the idea that movements into certain positions should be the same for everyone. For example, transitioning into a lunge position you might hear something like, “place your foot on the mat beneath your chest while keeping your palms flat on the ground.” For me personally, my palms can’t stay flat on the ground for this. My shins are about the same length as my arms, which means I have to lift one hand off the mat to get my foot into that position. And for Sebastian, this is completely okay! He understands that different bodies move differently. During one of the live training sessions, Sebastian gave me three modifications options to help with this movement. Of course, there are movements that I can’t do because I haven’t developed the necessary flexibility, strength, or coordination yet. But there are also movements and poses that will always be difficult because of my body proportions. Sebastian understands this and he doesn’t want body bias to affect anyone’s yoga practice.

The second idea that hit me was “process vs results.” While being able to do a crow pose is awesome, the process it takes to practice regularly and learn the pose is far more valuable. It’s the process that’s transformative, not the results. This leads into the third idea of perfectionism. Sebastian spoke about how perfectionism is not important. No one is perfect, including yoga teachers. Instead of trying to make us be “perfect” yoga teachers, he taught us how to recover when we make a mistake, as well as which mistakes we can breeze through and which mistakes we need to address. He also taught us that it’s okay to say we don’t know something. Despite how much knowledge he was able to teach us during the training course, we aren’t going to know everything. And personally, I think a desire to continue to learn instead of a desire to be perfect is what will make us better yoga instructors.

Now to STFU and Let You Try It

Even though I love to hear my own voice, you probably don’t. So stop listening to me and go try it for yourself. To start your 14-day free trial, follow this link: https://bit.ly/2IQNAdW. Seriously, go ahead, click it.

Acknowledgements

In August of this year, Women Who Fight teamed up with Yoga for BJJ to give away one free spot to the Yoga for BJJ Instructor Training Course, and I was lucky winner. I want to start by thanking Yoga for BJJ and Women Who Fight for giving me the opportunity to become an instructor. I want to thank Sebastian and Stine for creating such an incredible program, as well as Adam and Sarah for providing great training sessions. I want to thank everyone who participated in the training, you were all prepared and willing to learn. And lastly, I want to thank Women Who Fight for allowing me to share my thoughts in this article. I loved every minute of the training and I can’t wait to begin teaching Yoga for BJJ classes.

 

Marion Davidson

Marion Davidson is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Matt Serra. She’s currently living in London, pursuing her PhD in Forensic Anthropology from University College London. While in London, she trains at the Roger Gracie Academy. Before starting jiu jitsu, she was a competitive rhythmic gymnast and dancer. She has a BFA in Dance, a BA in Anthropology, and an MSc in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology. She also has a pretty cool dad, Dave Patton, who’s a black belt under Matt Serra and really isn’t that old.

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