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How Yoga Saved My Body During Worlds Camp

A blog post by Nikki Sullivan

For those of you who have never heard of Nikki Sullivan, let me just give you a quick introduction.

Nikki Sullivan is a black belt training and instructing at Atos HQ in San Diego, California. Since she has begun her BJJ journey 9 years ago, she won numerous titles. Among which:

  • 2019 IBJJF Pan Championship Silver Medalist
  • 2019 Portland Open Double Gold
  • 2018 IBJJF Master World Champion Weight and Absolute
  • 2018 IBJJF American National Champion Gi and No Gi
  • 2X ADCC Trials Finalist
  • 2X EBI Vet
  • 3X No Gi Pan Champion
  • Fight To Win Pro Title Holder Gi and No Gi

So, it is safe to say, she is kind of a badass. Therefore, I invite you to read this short post, talking about how yoga saved her body during worlds camp.

How Yoga Saved My Body During Worlds Camp

I wrote this while nearing the end of 2019 Worlds camp at Atos HQ in San Diego, CA. If you’ve never been to a Worlds camp, let me try to paint a picture for you. Every morning during the week, we meet for an intense, two-hour competition-focused training session. This session is composed of high-speed drilling and lots and lots of sparring. Basically, everyone is trying to kill you and rip your limbs off. Every day. And your coaches are yelling at you to go harder.

In addition to this competition class, the competitors are also training in the evenings and doing weight training on their own. This camp beats up your body. It pushes you to your limits, and beyond. By the end of the week, it’s usually hard to make grips, and your body struggles to move. Doing yoga saved me through this camp. It helped me keep my body loose and prevent injury. It also gave me some much-needed recovery. Here are some ways in which Yoga For BJJ saved my body during the Worlds camp:

“By the end of the week, it’s usually hard to make grips, and your body struggles to move. Doing yoga saved me through this camp.”

Doing yoga was key in my recovery during the week. When you beat your body up in training, you need to make sure to spend time being nice to it too. Yoga is an amazing way to do this. I feel that the harder the week, the more yoga I need to do to recover my body.

For me specifically, I invert a lot, and sometimes my back takes a lot of pressure. This results in a fair amount of lower back pain by the middle of the week. I need something to counteract the contorted positions I put myself in, and yoga is the perfect answer. Yoga helps me to strengthen my posture and teaches my spine how to be straight again.

Sometimes, I  would wake up super stiff from yesterday’s training, and need a good yoga session in order to be able to make it through the next class. When I do a quick dynamic stretch before class, it helps me to warm my body up, loosen up my joints, and prevent muscle strains, or other injuries. Yoga For BJJ even offers short, ten-minute warm-ups designed specifically to prepare for a training session or competition.

Yoga For BJJ also helped me to get through some existing injuries. I suffered a bad ankle injury about a month out from Worlds and discovered the wonders of the Yoga For BJJ rehab programs. The website offers specific recovery programs targeting the back, knees, hips, neck, ankles, and more. Taught by a certified osteopath, these programs are short, clear, and effective. I would notice improvement immediately after completing a session. These programs helped me get back into training quickly and helped me get the most out of my training.

“When you beat your body up in training, you need to make sure to spend time being nice to it too.”

I found the range of available programs to be very helpful as well. If I wanted a vigorous 45-minute workout, I could get it. However, some days I felt broken and all I could handle was some gentle seated yoga. Fortunately, I could always choose “Morning Yoga”, or “Yoga For When Exhausted”, and find a flow that my body could handle.

So remember to take care of your body! If you beat it up, give it some TLC as well. Whether you’re an inflexible “rock”, a noodle, a one-stripe white belt, or a world champion black belt, Yoga For BJJ has something for you


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