Yoga For BJJ Teacher Training
I showed up to the yoga for BJJ instructor training early, met Sebastian and we chatted for awhile (he is just as hilarious in real life as he is in the videos - maybe even more so!). Jonas and I were working on getting everyone registered and signed in, and as always whenever you are trying to organize a large group of people there are always hiccups and inevitable challenges.
As we were just finishing up and navigating through these challenges, Sebastian invited everyone to get on the mats to start the first day of Yoga For BJJ Instructor Training. It was really surprising to me that he told Jonas and to both leave our work and join them, he told us ‘ to finish the work later’. We didn’t want to miss out on anything, but it was really really cool Sebastian didn’t want us to miss out on anything either.
He told us to run around in a big circle, which we did half heartedly to the warmup that we all know so well (followed by jumping jacks, pushups, triangles, bridges, etc).
Did we really pay for this?
I was surprised. No welcome. No introduction, nothing. Right into this warmup. We were all not sure what to expect. The interesting part of this is, those two above elements (old traditional warmup and the nervous energy) were all part of the plan that was executed so well, to make the welcome more powerful.
Sebastian asked “if you were a brand new person in class, never done Jiu-Jitsu in your life, how would you feel right now?”
The honest answers from us?
“Just trying to make it through”
“Welcome to Yoga for BJJ Teacher Training”
The first day was intelligently designed to teach us how much we don’t know, to challenge us beyond our capabilities, and to frustrate us. What we didn’t know, is this was the plan to ensure we received the most value possible out of the next two days.
The plan worked.
Some of my favourite elements of the teacher training was that Sebastian made sure to reinforce the fact that we are not Yoga Instructors, we are Yoga For BJJ Instructors. We teach stretching to inflexible Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Adding some fascinating theory on instructing to this (what makes a good instructor, what makes a bad instructor, etc) and it was very informative.
Another favourite element of the course was we studied what yoga poses directly transferred to Jiu Jitsu movements, and why. That was really, really cool. Obviously the most effective way to train Jiu Jitsu is to actually be on the mats training Jiu Jitsu. But the purpose of this teacher training is Jiu Jitsu movements in a yoga context, stretching and movement with the goal of improving quality of life on the mats (and potentially off the mats as well), along with allowing people the opportunity to train hard, potentially prehab (prevent injuries before they happen) and stay on those mats forever.
This course has many obvious perks, but what about the perks that weren’t as obvious? As the weekend progressed and everyone got to know each other, we went from strangers to junior acquaintances (to potentially to senior acquaintances!). Coming from all over the globe (England, Argentina, Kuwait, Colorado, Ireland) and all walks of life (sports psychologists, moms, martial arts instructors, to a breathwork coach that leads people on mountain exhibitions) The amazing part of this is, every single person brought some beneficial element to the group, doesn’t matter who they were or where they came from - everyone brought something to the table. Whether it was knowledge, a new perspective, or details and suggestions that weren’t recognized before. It is important to note that the course was designed to not be limited by not only learning from Sebastian, but so everyone could learn from each other too.
It was really really cool to make connections with so many people.
There was a breathwork coach that guided us through a breathing exercise of 30 minutes and that was an amazing experience- he talked a lot about how breathing affects the nervous system. He also leads people on exhibitions in the mountains, in shorts in November. This led him to talking about the benefits of cold showers (which I didn’t realize are so numerous!). Very cool to learn so much from each person in the course (his name is Artur Paulins if you want to look him up). The universe has also been gifting me with cold showers as the flat I am staying at doesn’t have the largest hot water tank in the world, I have chosen to not be a pussy attempt to be grateful for this.
As much as it was incredibly fun it was also incredibly hard. My biggest challenge so far in this London trip is being at the bottom of the totem pole (or so it feels like). If anyone has ever taught me anything, they know my gift is NOT learning fast, but it is that I am persistent as hell. The Yoga For BJJ Teacher training was incredibly challenging because we had exercises where we had to drastically improve our communication skills. Choice of words, how you say it, the tone you say it, and when you say all play an incredibly important role, in fact - the role. It was shocking how difficult it was to get this from my mind, to verbal perfection so my partner knew what I needed. We would walk our partners through sequences, but could never show it. Only tell it, with verbal communication. I struggled with this a lot, and got very frustrated that I failed to communicate what I wanted done. A very very unexpected and interesting challenge.
Training at Roger Gracie’s Academy has been absolutely amazing. The culture and team are all very welcoming, and have an incredibly high level of skill. Once again, the bottom of the totem pole (or so it feels like!). Training with high level black and brown belts that are my size was a big eye opener, battling back and forth in our rounds.
I came here to push my comfort zone and limits, and that is definitely happening. It also confirmed for me that I need to keep pushing in the direction I am going, but I need to keep pushing harder and more. I am going in the right direction, definitely not there yet.
I know I made the right decision to come here because I am surrounded by people who bring me to the next level. Especially at roger Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Black belt isn’t a special belt there, it’s just a belt. They are all on the mats, and they are all training. Time to get better.
Then the same thing with the Yoga For BJJ Instructor Training, I learned a lot in the three days, but other people from different backgrounds, learning styles and walks of life would learn faster, more, and or even explain things better.
Very humbling, but this is what I came for.
I am so glad that I didn’t let fear and doubt keep me from coming to London, and pushing my limits in this way.
I’m learning as I push my boundaries I continue to improve what I am capable of. It’s like I have brick walls surrounding me, and this is my comfort zone. As I challenge myself it’s like pushing that large brick wall back, it’s hard and challenging - but once it’s pushed a little further back I gain a little more. Experience, tools, knowledge.
The walls are so high in my comfort zone, and it’s so safe in there it’s easy to become content.
But. Not much happens in my little space.
The cool part is, once I push those walls back a little further, I gain tools, experience and knowledge.
The really cool part? There is no limit to how far those walls can be pushed back, to how much I can learn, to how much I can experience. That part is up to me, sometimes very uncomfortable and incredibly hard.
But expanding the box labeled my comfort zone is so damn worth it.
Because I came here to be challenged, and that’s exactly what is happening.
It’s easy to stay inside of that small comfort zone, but it’s hard to think of how much I’ll be missing out on that’s on the other side of those walls, if I don't expand by pushing them back.
I don’t think life was ever really meant to be easy.
I think we are creatures who are happiest when we are challenged, evolving, overcoming. Because the euphoria of the achievement that comes with it makes it all worthwhile.
As we look around at our box that is just a little bit bigger today.
It's my goal to make that box a little bit bigger every day, in some way. No matter how big or small.
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