Strength, Recovery & Breath: Elyssa on yoga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and training for a half marathon
Elyssa is one of our longest standing teachers here at Trika, bringing some of our stronger classes to the studio - yoga for strength + conditioning and vinyasa, as well as balancing practices such as yin yang flow and grounding hatha.
She also trains and competes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as being an avid runner… she recently participated in her first half trail marathon!
We think these are pretty big feats, proving lots of insights into how yoga and strength/cardio/mobility training can combine. So we thought we'd pick her brains to hear a few of the things she has to say on the matter 🙂
We hope anyone, whether you train a lot, a little, or just when you feel like it, will find this post useful. Do share with your friends and training partners alike!
Hey! Firstly, do you find yoga complements your BJJ training? If so, how?
Practising yoga and training Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a match made in heaven. For me the two disciplines are alike in that I have to be completely present – in yoga you’re present to find balance and in BJJ present so that you don’t get caught in an arm bar or choke!
I’ve trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu for nearly 5 years now but it takes a big toll on your body. From the get go having a background of practising yoga helped me and my performance. Yoga helps to build up strength and flexibility and vitally an awareness of our body and breath. These are all key components to improving your BJJ game.
Amazing! Is there anything yoga adds that when you're training BJJ and in the gym, you need reminding of?
Yes! Yoga also teaches us to listen to our bodies and to accept where our bodies and minds are on any given day. This has helped on the gym mats too; it reminds me to leave my ego at the door and listen to what my body is telling me. If you’re training BJJ it’s pretty likely you’ll get injured and that means slowing down. Yoga has taught me to slow down when my body needs it and to be comfortable in that gentler pace. It means I’ve been able to recover from injuries quicker and the physical practice of yoga has enabled me to also prevent injury by building strength and balance in my body.
And have the effects paid off do you think?
I think so – this year I competed at the Bristol Open BJJ Tournament in March, and got a bronze medal in my weight category and a silver medal in the open weight category.
That's such an amazing achievement! We know you also run… How does yoga work in this respect?
Central to our yoga practice is breath, carrying with it Prana - life force. I’ve found that breath has helped me to dive deeper into my physical abilities not only in BJJ but also running. This year I ran my first trail half marathon in April.
Perhaps the most obvious reason for practising yoga as a runner would be to help tight muscles and keep joints mobile. However, I’ve also found that the focus on the breath in yoga has helped so much with running and breathing in and out through your nose.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
What I love about yoga as well is that there are so many different styles of asana practice. So, I’ve been able to adapt my practice to complement my training schedule. After a long run, I will typically be called to practice yin or restorative poses. However, if I’m in the lead up to a BJJ competition I might practise a more fiery flow to get my body energised and active.
I’ve got another BJJ comp in August and a trail half marathon in the Black Mountain in June.
Good luck for those, Elyssa. We have a feeling you will smash it.
If you have any questions about the above, do drop our friendly desk team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.And join Elyssa for a class via our online class schedule here. She teaches every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.