While Jiu-Jitsu’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, you’ll rarely meet a practitioner of the so-called gentle art who doesn’t bemoan old nagging injuries, myriad joint changes that could soon become new injuries, or general mobility issues. So what to do but suffer in silence?
Sebastian Brosche — a jiu-jitsu black belt and former competitive judoka, veteran yoga instructor, and all-round mobility expert — thinks he has an answer. After rehabilitating many of his old judo injuries through yoga, Sebastian was eventually inspired to develop Yoga for BJJ, an online yoga resource specifically designed for grapplers.
“Both me and my wife are really bad at coming up with new ideas – but we’re really good at stealing other people’s ideas and making them better,” Sebastian tells me with his characteristic dry humor. “I value myself very much and think that I am the best at everything. So very often when I see someone doing something I’m like, ‘I could do a lot better.’” He shrugs. “Often I’m right and often I’m wrong.”
The style of yoga that Sebastian and his wife Stine teach and practice was born in Los Angeles leading up to and after this year’s Worlds – when the couple was constantly attending yoga classes. “The yoga scene was great back then,” says Sebastian. “It was just people teaching the yoga they loved to do: there were handstands and there were acrobats on the beach. We had a really good time.”
Sebastian and Stine visited a studio called YogaGlo, the early version of what would eventually become its own massive at-home online fitness platform. “They offered free yoga classes – you could take classes for free from the best teachers in the world – they recorded them and put them online.”
That made Sebastian and Stine think. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why is nobody doing this in our home country?’ Nobody else is doing it – so let’s do it. It’s just about creating a website and recording videos; it can’t be that hard.”
The two ended up creating a website that Sebastian affectionately refers to as “YogaGlo, but in Norwegian”. It got her going and motivated Sebastian to consider other areas that might be ripe for an online yoga business. “We thought, ‘While we’re at it, why don’t we do the same [a platform for] Yoga for jiu jitsu?’ Because everyone needs it and nobody in jiu-jitsu knows yoga.” Hence, yoga for BJJ was born.
Although many of the Grappler’s Career Corner issues here at Jiu-Jitsu Times have so far explored insights from studio owners, owning an academy is far from the only way to start a business in the growing Jiu-Jitsu industry – as Sebastian proves . He currently makes all of his income from Yoga for BJJ, which he has integrated into a thriving online subscription service that courts eager clients among Jiu-Jitsu fans.
Yoga for BJJ’s popularity first surged in the early lockdown days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when jiu-jitsu practitioners and other athletes were desperate for a physical outlet – but were clearly limited in what they could do. According to Sebastian and his wife, the yoga studio they ran at the time — like most fitness facilities in 2020 — lost significant revenue.
“It was so much fun when we started [that studio], and Covid just turned it into a nightmare,” says Sebastian. They ended up closing the studio and selling their old Norwegian language yoga website to focus solely on yoga for BJJ.
Her commitment to her new company paid off. “I am so thankful that even after Covid we still had around 3000 members supporting us. We had twins and a two and a half year old, so for three years our life was completely crazy.”
What is the hardest part of growing the business? “The biggest challenge is getting people to try it,” says Sebastian. “And then the practice takes over the sale for me. All results are perceived either directly or subconsciously. I don’t have to say it [customers] what they get.”
He laughs. “But I have to get people to try and get them to be consistent. And then they’re addicted for life – it’s like jiu-jitsu. You have to get people to take their first class and then you have to help them get to a point where they really experience the flow of jiu-jitsu that gets them hooked and then your job is done. ”
“I have three types of clients – and I think those three types cover everyone in jiu-jitsu,” he elaborates. “You have the amateurs who just enjoy rolling, you have the competitors who want to win gold, and you have gym owners and instructors whose job it is to teach jiu-jitsu to students. And all three need yoga for BJJ – or something similar.”
Much like a gym owner — or even a yoga studio owner — Sebastian has learned the importance of delegating. As his company has grown, working in a team has become an essential part of success.
“I’m an amateur at marketing—I’m really good at teaching yoga, but I suck at everything else,” he explains with complete candor. “And I now realize that every business starts with just one person doing everything themselves — and when they decide, ‘I have a good product, I’m ready to scale,’ everyone gets to a point where they need to let go of certain duties and delegate them to someone else. That’s where I’m at now.”
What makes Yoga for BJJ different from other online yoga apps or web-based services? According to Sebastian, it’s specificity – and a strong understanding of the target demographic. “The yoga we do is Vinyasa-based,” he explains. “It’s active and challenging […] My goal with yoga in BJJ is to create a feeling of flowing rolling – without a partner. The same feeling of just intuitively going from pose to pose. The joy of moving slowly, with breath, and with purpose. Really, there are several different purposes, but the main purpose is to prepare you for the role – and if you don’t have a partner or it’s your day off, the aim of the course is to leave you more energetic after the course than you were before it. “
As Sebastian sees it, accessing information is not a problem in today’s Jiu-Jitsu age – after all, the thriving DVD instructional market allows eager students to learn from all their favorite competitors and professors. However, in order to learn these techniques, they need to prepare their bodies – which means they need to develop high levels of body awareness, mobility and proprioception. This priming process, Sebastian believes, is where yoga pays off for BJJ.
However, yoga brand Yoga for BJJ isn’t simply a bodyweight mobility system – according to Sebastian, it sticks to its yogic roots by having lessons for the mind taught alongside lessons for the body.
“People don’t lose a fight because they were inflexible – they mostly lose the fight because of their mindset,” says Sebastian. “Yoga can help you [with mindset]. If you were just stretching and doing mobility while talking shit, it wouldn’t be the same as doing it while breathing and turning your attention inward.” Sebastian believes that the mindfulness that accompanies yoga as a spiritual practice has as many, if not more, benefits to a grappler than flexible hamstrings.
Sebastian is also excited about the idea of growing his business through collaboration: “If you want to be part of the Yoga for BJJ team – if you have something valuable to contribute and want to be a part of it, we’re open to both investors and people, who can develop software, sales and other sides of the business,” he shares. “I would be happy if people call me and get in touch with me.”
To learn more about Yoga for BJJ, follow her official Instagram account or visit their website where you can sign up for a free trial.
This story is the fifth part of grappler’s career corner, a series of informal interviews at the Jiu-Jitsu times provides insight and advice on building a career in martial arts and combat sports – based on the experiences of successful professionals in the industry.
If you have any questions or thoughts to share, reach out to us on Instagram.
Previous installments in the Grappler’s career corner:
Meet Fabiano Scherner, owner of American Top Team Portland
Meet Nick “Chewjitsu” Albin, YouTuber, BJJ coach and gym owner
Meet Meg He, CEO, investor and competitive jiu-jitsu athlete
Meet Nakapan Phungephorn, Chairman of the Black Belt Business Union