Balance In BJJ & Muay Thai With The Help Of Yoga.
Did you know I teach Yoga at an amazing new MMA gym in Cascais Portugal called Flow? I've taught in gyms before but never one that boasted Champion BJJ fighters and seasoned Muay Thai boxers in addition to a light and bright atmosphere that is so female friendly but still tough as nails.
Not only was their name so similar to my company name but the logos and branding of the gym matches my tatoo. I was meant to teach there.
Yoga and Wellness at Flow:
At Flow we understand that there is no single recipe for health and wellness that works 100% of the time for 100% of people. So we balance out our MMA offering with a complete Yoga and Wellness program that goes beyond stretching.
Yoga is a discipline that has seen tremendous growth in popularity in recent years. However, we still have people telling us that Yoga just isn’t their thing and they aren’t flexible enough to practice. They say it looks boring, too easy in terms of intensity, too hard for the non-flexible, and something only for women. Obviously they have not come to one of our classes!
A little bit about me.
I started practicing Yoga in NYC in 2000 as a way to work out. I joined a Bikram (hot) Yoga studio in Manhattan with an actress friend because she said it was an awesome way to lose weight. Of course we lost weight sweating so much and learned how to control breathing so we didn’t pass out but I wouldn’t call what I was doing then Yoga. The hot style was limited to only 26 out of 1,000s of poses and was the same thing every time. The lack of creativity, extreme intensity, emphasis on pushing to “get the pose”, and total lack of emotional support caused many, including myself, to be very irregular in our practice due to injury and burn out- the very things we were trying to avoid.
In 2004 I moved to a town where there were over 10 different Yoga studios. I was exposed to the more complete practice of Yoga which included the spiritual teachings, more poses, and different ways of practicing them with props, normally ventilated rooms, and a focus on the spiritual vs just the body. Yes, we burned incense and chanted but don’t knock it till you try it.
In this environment guided by highly qualified and educated senior teachers from multiple backgrounds and styles, Yoga quickly became more than just exercise and developed into a guiding force in my life. After years of intensive study and practice of the complete system I can safely say Yoga is how I express and experience my spirituality, in addition to the main way I keep my 47-year-old body working. I have other tools in my wellness toolkit, but Yoga is the glue that holds it all together.
I continue to study with top teachers from all over the world whenever I can, however I can. I love sharing the new information I have processed and made part of my practice. I am proud to be part of the new wave of body-positive, mature teachers who approach Yoga from a more informed, gentle, and supportive point of view. I think you will find it to be far more advanced and challenging than you expect or have experienced otherwise.
My teaching is grounded in the principle of doing no harm and I put my student’s needs before my ego. I offer customized classes for the students in front of me, not a processed and packaged set of poses. I have invested many years in my training and education to enable me to adapt in the moment to the needs of my students. Each class is structured to be difficult but doable. I respect people’s boundaries and beliefs and know a gym is not necessarily the place where people want to philosophize, but I will happily share the more spiritual aspects of this Yogic life with anyone willing to ask and listen.
“We chose Kimma to be our Yoga trainer because of the depth and breadth of her Yoga knowledge and her passion for helping our students and teachers at FLOW. You will often find her sitting on the stairs watching a BJJ or Muay Thai class to ensure she understands the movements and challenges we all face. She has helped our whole #flowfitfam.” Carol
Yoga at Flow targets what everyone, especially in MMA, needs to stay safe, get strong, respond better, and come out on top:
Creating deeper connections to and awareness of the body
Improving breath awareness and breathing techniques
Developing the ability to slow down and observe the body/ mind/ breath connection in the present moment.
The Flow approach combines the ancient system with modern understanding to bring vitality, health, deep relaxation, and peace of mind to those who practice. Our more experienced students are surprised at the amount they learn here, while beginners find it challenging whilst making progress.
Our Yoga classes focus on 3 main areas; Asana (poses), Pranayama (breath work), and Dharana (concentration and focus practices).
The Yoga poses taught at Flow are grounded in anatomy & physiology and draw from modern movement science to systematically stretch and strengthen muscles throughout the body.
We do not aim to create hypermobile circus performers or strive solely for flexibility. Narrow approaches like that have been shown to damage the body and are unsustainable and unhealthy for most people.
Don’t think that this means you’ll have an easy time in our classes! The style of classes we offer are mixed level (beginners and experienced students together) Vinyasa flow and Hatha with a few Yin style classes from time to time.
Our classes are different every time so you will not get bored or experience repetitive stress injuries. We take time to deconstruct poses, build them up step by step, explain the bio-mechanics of the movements, and help students understand where they need to work to improve. Modifications are always provided along with light hands-on adjustments as needed. We do not force students into positions or focus on the shape, we guide and help students to achieve the pose that is right for them and their specific needs. We work within safe ranges of motion for optimal results and help athletes maintain top performance.
Our students develop an improved understanding of and connection to their bodies (proprioception) while making healthy gains in mobility and strength. Plus they pick up tips and tricks for their Jits and Muy Thai classes.
Breathing seems incredibly simple, but doing it properly when working out and exerting effort can be surprisingly complex. Many adults don’t properly breathe due to poor posture, stress, and other factors.
Proper breathing is essential during all forms of exercise, for example our strikers already know to exhale on punches and kicks, for maximum power and protection. Good breathing practices ensure that muscles receive the oxygen needed to function properly, control stress levels, and power up all actions.
Breathing patterns and techniques are central to the practice of Yoga and Flow integrates breathing techniques into all Yoga classes to help students recognize their own breathing patterns and improve them. I often catch students holding their breath during exertion and have to remind them to breathe and coach them on how to work more efficiently. Once they start breathing better the poses take on new dimensions.
Our modern way of living is made up of so many things to focus on and respond to we can easily become overloaded and easily distracted causing our stress levels to rise and our productivity to drop. Dharana is the first crucial step towards a deeper meditation practice where you train the mind to focus on a single object or action. It is a key component to a healthy and peaceful life.
At the gym there is a definition of Flow that is close to the idea of Dharana: “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.”
Dharana, and Flow for that matter, is not about sitting quietly and zoning out waiting for something to happen. It is an active practice where you become completely focused on what you are doing and how it makes you feel. It is a key to learning how your actions impact the present moment and future outcomes.
In our Yoga classes you will hear me guiding students into poses, queuing proper breathing rhythm, and then taking it a step deeper to draw attention awTHey ay from distractions and deeper into where the pose can be felt. Using a step-by-step approach that adapts to the student and moving slowly with guided attention, I show our students how a little core engagement combined with the proper breathing rhythm, in addition to activating more muscles can bring greater strength and ease in movements. Many students are surprised to learn how just a small shift in foot position and a little core engagement can make a difference in how they feel.
Just like martial arts, Yoga develops strength and flexibility, improves breathing, and teaches us how to pay attention to every detail of the moment. If you haven’t given a class a try let me know why and then let me convince you that you need to start.