Yoga For Fighters. Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
I recently received an email from a student of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai who has been practising my videos for several years—to “address and prevent discomfort.” Eric asked me if I would consider designing a special routine for fighters. (I also received similar emails from a wing-suiter and a bass player, amongst others.) This is something that I would like to do more of in the future but in the meantime, I am going to recommend specific poses and videos that I hope will be helpful.
SPECIFIC YOGA FOR FIGHTERS
Eric mentioned that “tightness in my hips and lower back inhibit my technique and prevent proper form. I’ve recently had a “rib out” from over-rotation of my core. In both BJJ and Muay Thai, I find the areas that require the most flexibility are the hips, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, spine, and upper back.” So pretty much everything!
HOW YOGA CAN HELP
- Increase flexibility in key areas.
- Improve rotational spinal mobility.
- Enhance balance and proprioception.
- Alleviate areas of recurring pain.
- Improve breathing efficiency.
- Train focus and concentration.
A YOGA 15 SEQUENCE FOR FIGHTERS: FIGHTING FIT
Here is a 15-minute flow designed to open up the hips, stretch the calves and hamstrings, improve thoracic spine mobility, strengthen the core, stabilise the hips and improve balance and proprioception. It’s called Revolver.
1. HALF SUN SALUTATIONS
Warm up with two rounds of Half Sun Salutations.
2. CRESCENT LUNGE + BALANCING LOW LUNGE TWIST
From Mountain pose. Inhale, sweep your arms out and up, look up. Exhale, swan dive down into Forward Fold. Inhale, look up with a flat back. Exhale, step your right foot back, drop your knee and release your back foot in Low Lunge. Inhale, sweep your arms out and up into Crescent Lunge.
Exhale, open your arms and twist to the left. Take hold of your back foot, reach through your right fingertips and hold the pose completely still for 2-3 breaths—looking over your left shoulder. Take a deep breath in. Exhale, release your foot and bring your hands back down to the mat. Inhale, tuck your back toes and step your left foot back to Plank. Exhale, drop to your knees and lower all the way down to the mat.
Inhale, lift your hands, chest and feet in Locust. Exhale, relax into the pose. Hold the pose for 2-3 breaths. Take a deep breath in. Exhale, lower back down, press your hips back, tuck your toes and lift up into Downward Dog.
4. REVOLVED DOWNWARD DOG
Bring your right palm to the middle of your mat. Inhale, reach back and take hold of your right calf or ankle and look up to the sky in Revolved Downward Dog. Exhale, twist from the base of your spine. Hold the pose for 2-3 breaths. Come back to centre and repeat on the other side. Inhale, press evenly into both hands. Exhale, step your right foot forward for Low Lunge and Balancing Low Lunge Twist on the other side. Step back to Downward Dog.
5. REVOLVED LOW LUNGE + REVOLVED SIDE ANGLE
Take a deep breath in. Exhale, step your left foot forward and release your back foot in Low Lunge. Inhale, come up and press your palms together at your chest. Exhale, bring your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh and twist to the left.
You can stay here or tuck your back toes, lift your right knee off the mat and come into Revolved Side Angle. Hold for 2-3 breaths. Take a deep breath in. Exhale, release the pose, bring your hands back down to the mat and step back to Downward Dog for the other side.
6. BALANCING HALF MOON
Step forward to Mountain pose at the top of your mat. Shift your weight into your right foot. Inhale, hug your left knee into your chest. Exhale, tip forward, reach your fingertips to the mat and lengthen your left heel back. If you have your balance, sweep your left hand up to the sky and open your chest in Balancing Half Moon. Flex your left foot and reach up through your fingertips. Hold the pose for 2-3 breaths. Last breath in. Exhale, bring your left hand back to the mat. Inhale, bend your right knee, come up to standing, hug your left knee into your chest. Exhale, release the pose and bring your foot back down to the mat. Repeat on the other side.
7. SIDE PLANK + THREAD THROUGH
Inhale, sweep your arms out and up. Exhale, swan dive down into Forward Fold. Inhale, look up. Exhale, step back to Plank. Inhale, sweep your left hand up to the sky. Exhale, stack your left foot on top of the right in Side Plank.
Inhale, reach up through your fingertips. Exhale, thread your left hand under your body. Repeat the movement 3 times. Inhale, sweep your hand back up. Exhale, bring your left hand down, drop to your knees and lower all the way down to the mat. Inhale, lift up into Cobra. Exhale, lower back down, press your hips back, tuck your toes and lift up into Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.
Inhale, bend your knees, press into your palms and stretch your spine. Exhale, drop down onto all fours. Sweep both feet to the right, sit back and come to the middle of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale, sit up tall. Exhale, lower your upper body as slowly as you can down to the mat. Hug your knees into your chest and rock gently from side to side.
9. FINAL RESTING POSE
Release your arms and legs in Final Resting pose—keeping your body and mind still for at least 5 minutes.
5 YOGA 15 VIDEOS + POSES FOR FIGHTERS
WHO’S UP NEXT?
As I mentioned, Yoga For Fighters is far from my area of expertise but the two disciplines are actually a fantastic complement to one another. Eric emailed me out of the blue and out of gratitude for the challenge, I have given him a year’s access to the full Yoga 15 Library.
Who’s up next? I’d love to hear about the sport that matters to you and the issues that you’re dealing with. Let’s see if we can tailor your practice to better support your training.