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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

08 August 2012

08/08/2012 - Yoga

Class #002
Link House, (Yoga), Kate Rowland, Bristol, UK - 08/08/2012

The first time I tried out yoga was at university. I spent most of the class struggling to contain my laughter, as people kept snoring. Still, yoga has long been closely related to BJJ, with luminaries like Rickson Gracie a big proponent. Hence why I was interested in taking up my boss's offer to help her out with her yoga teaching qualification. She wanted to get a chance to practice instructing, so needed some students. In return, we get some free yoga classes, which seems like a pretty good deal. :)

This initial session was set to kick off early in the morning, so I'd still end up with a 9-5 work day (I normally arrive somewhere between 08:30-08:50, so getting in more like 08:10 to do some yoga wasn't difficult). Kate started off with some background about yoga and its purpose. I hadn't realised there are apparently eight aspects of yoga, of which the physical side is only one, but it's understandably the most popular.

We started off by standing square on, with arms by our sides, then breathing in lifted those arms up so the hands me, finally breathing out while bringing the hands down the front of the body meeting just above your groin. That was followed by the 'warrior' pose, where you're doign a slight lunge with your arms in the air. Your feet are a bit further apart for the second 'warrior' pose, where it felt more militaristic: this time, you have one arm straight out, the other back, as if you were throwing a spear.

Next one, your leg is a bit forward, then you twist, one arm out to the side, the other down. I can point the arm straight up without any problems, but that sideways position surprisingly was much harder to do, as my shoulder was quite tight in that direction. I also kept not having my head in alignment with my spine: as in jiu jitsu, Kate walked over to adjust my head to the right point. I'm very used to people grabbing bits of me and moving them, as well as doing it myself when teaching jiu jitsu. However, from what Kate said occasionally people in yoga classes are a little more taken aback by that physical contact, which I guess is understandable.

The following pose was similar, as again you twist, but this time your arms in line, which I found easier: no tightness in my shoulder for that position. Finally, we went on all fours, with our toes on the floor rather than insteps. Put your bum in the air to create a triangle, then try to bring your heels towards the ground.

Class finished off by lying on your back, completing the session with some fairly secular meditation. I was strongly reminded me of the anxiety and sleep tapes I've heard, where the person leading the meditation, running through each part of your body and urging you to 'feel' its connection with the floor. This can come off sounding quite silly, but Kate has a good voice for it: deep, authoritative and calm.

I'll be popping along to a few more, though I doubt I'd ever do much yoga long term. Still, something very worth considering if you have problems with flexibility, and also seems like it would be good for mental equilibrium too, if you need to destress.

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