19 May 2014
Yoga, like the martial arts, is a practice that first originated a long long time ago. Both share a lot of similarities with respect to physical, mental and in some cases, spiritual well being. I wanted to know more about yoga so I hooked up with UK based instructor Jo Prakash.
Here are some thoughts about how yoga can help the grappler and some photos and videos of Jo showing cool yoga positions.
Hi Jo, please introduce yourself to my readers - how long have you been training yoga?
I have been teaching for 10 years now, my practice before that was more like a mess around without the knowledge of what can be achieved through yoga. Once I completed my teacher training I realised the potential and worked with a greater discipline to achieve this.
What are the difference between all the different styles?
There are many different styles, ashtanga which is dynamic and strengthening, iyengar which is alignment based, Sivananda which includes spiritual aspects, bikram which is "hot" yoga (postures in heat) and many other styles. At the end of the day they all come from the same yoga sutras hich describe hatha yoga. I do not teach any specific, I like to mix it up to avoid a stagnant practice.
You've taught a lot of martial artists and jiu jitsu grapplers especially, what can yoga offer us?
Yoga helps those in martial arts by helping to prevent injuries that may occur and speeding up recovery processes. I find the twist and binds are brilliant for bjj as it looks like you are already being grappled into these positions!
Yoga will also teach you to breathe comfortably while in the closed postures. Also you may find that without correcting your posture on a regular basis with yoga, your body may start losing effectiveness and stronger areas of the body take over the weaker areas. This is a problem that many people have, they complain of bad backs, shoulders or neck because their posture is slouched. By strengthening all areas of the body and correcting the alignment these aches and pains can be removed along with other ailments bad posture gives.
Yoga will also help bjj by increasing flexibility of the whole body particularly the hips for deep forward bends and shoulder and neck flexibility for rotation of the arms and head.
Some of the positions look impossible, can anyone really do these?
Anyone can get to any level with a disciplined practice. It's only your mind that will determine how far you can go, not your body. It required practice and discipline to reach advanced levels not flexibility or strength. My teacher started at the age of 45 with no practice before and a bad lifestyle prior to this. He is nearly 70 now and amazes me with his energy and postures he can perform.
Okay, so what does a newbie look for when searching for a new yoga class to attend?
If you are looking for a class it's best to go to many first to see if you are happy with the teacher and class environment. A good indication of a teacher is their own ability to perform postures and their long term students. My long term students are a credit to me and inspire my beginners visually and mentally. Also as a beginner if you are wanting to advance in yoga be prepared that it takes time and discipline, patience is required and you have to work on accepting that some things you can't control. A quote from Sri Pattabhi Jois sums it up "Do your practice and all is coming". I pretty much live by this modern day yoga quote!
Here are some videos of sequences Jo thought would be useful for us jiu jitsu folk:
Check out Jo's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/josyoga