You might think that yoga and judo are mutually exclusive forms of exercise. However, flexibility is one of my new judo strategies. And yoga is making a difference in more ways than I first thought.
As some of you know I have been expanding my training regime of late. A few months ago I began taking yoga classes and Pilates sessions. In particular, I wanted to work on my flexibility. Having short arms and legs has meant that my judo game is not based on my incredible elastic capability.
After trying 3 or 4 yoga studios, I came across Bikram Yoga in my home suburb of Werribee. Bikram is similar to other yoga, except you’re in a 40 degree room the whole time. The class went for an hour and a half; I thought I wasn’t going to survive past minute 8 of the first session.
Bikram classes follow the same positional sequences every time. A standout feature of the workout for me (which I hadn’t planned on) was that many of the positions were isometric holds, meaning my core muscles got a pounding every session.
The heat may or may not have any actual effect on improving flexibility; the jury is still out on that one for me. However, the one thing I can guarantee is that in the Bikram room you need little more then 30 seconds of warm up before you are launching yourself into pretzel-shaped positions. That’s a handy thing when its winter and class is at 5:30am.
Four months have since passed and I’ve noticed some very clear improvements in my flexibility and core strength. It’s more then just being bendy enough to apply a gogo-plata (if you are into BJJ you will know what that is). Flexibility is improving my game when I am off balance. I can draw on it even when I am stretched out and still feel comfortable and strong enough to throw someone. It is also improving my spatial awareness, which is vital in escaping throws and countering.
The mental advantage of all this yoga is knowing that even if my head or arms are contorted, I am not going to land for Ippon because I know my legs or hips can twist and like a cat I won’t land on my back.