I’ve just entered my 8th year as an avid Yoga Practitioner, 4th year as a Teacher and admittedly forever student in the world of yoga.
Alongside me all these years has been my Hubby (aka “Coach Sav’s”) who eats, breathes and sleeps the world of CrossFit.
At first, I wasn’t sure about this “new” activity he had found so much passion in, but as time went on and his fitness level progressed to nothing short of admirably impressive. Without much convincing, he agreed that with the implementation of a regular Yoga practice I could help him work towards achieving his own personal goals in CrossFit and his overall fitness.
Over the last few years, and even more so now that he’s got his L1 Certification, we’ve explored how much the two worlds of our passions are so much alike, and I became more and more interested in how the fundamentals of CrossFit can be supported by a regular yoga practice.
Which brings us to the inspiration for this post. Read on to see reference to the first-hand experience of how a regular yoga practice has helped improve Coach Sav’s fitness and overall performance.
1) Yoga Improves your Range of Motion and General Mobility
Are your heels coming off the ground in your overhead squat? Is it difficult for you to do a handstand because your shoulders are so tight? How are your pistols…can you get down there? Practicing basic yoga poses like a downward facing dog, warrior two, and pigeon (just to name a few) reinforces external rotation of the hip and shoulder necessary for many basic movements of CrossFit. Practicing a variety of yoga poses consistently helps improve your overall mobility.
2) Yoga helps you Focus
Have you ever had to complete 150 wall balls? That target is your point of focus where your gaze rests. In classical yoga, there is a strong emphasis on creating a focal point that doesn’t move so you stay consistent while you’re moving. This technique of setting a steady focus can help tremendously with movements such as Olympic lifts, double-unders, box jumps, and toes to bar.
3) Yoga Teaches you how to Breathe More Efficiently
Yoga is a practice of linking movement to your breath, so you move through postural transitions using your inhale and exhale. This pattern of breath awareness seamlessly transfers to a long workout where the timing of breath and rhythm is essential to staying on point. Yoga also helps you learn how to breathe deeply into your diaphragm, which directly translates into your ability to produce more power and sustain movements for longer durations.
4) Yoga Develops your Ability to Balance
Balance is one of the Ten General Physical Skills highlighted in the definition of CrossFit. It’s necessary for most of the movements you see in a classic CrossFit workout. Practicing balancing yoga poses help you achieve the stability needed to perform pistols, handstand walks, lunges and different squat variations. With enough practice and a little luck, this improved balance may even trickle into your real life circumstances outside the gym.
5) Yoga gives Definition
Yoga will lengthen your muscles and potentially help you feel and maybe even look leaner and taller. Or even more noticeably, your posture will improve from practicing yoga and you’ll find you just feel better in your body. Either way, yoga tones the body and compliments the gains from your CrossFit workouts which is just AWESOME!
6) Yoga gives you Time to Relax
CrossFit is primarily about moving fast with intensity, but in order to cultivate speed, you must also cultivate rest. Relaxation is important for your ability to integrate the information you receive mentally and physically during your workouts and throughout your day. Being able to relax deeply helps you come back with more power, focus, and determination because you’ve had ample time to recover. Give a yoga class a try and see how you feel.
7) Yoga Reinforces Good Positioning
Most of the classical poses in yoga support the same concepts as CrossFit. Finding a braced neutral spinal position, creating torque, and always working from core to extremity. The goal of the ancient yogis was to move through postures in a way that could help you sit comfortably for long periods of time in a position where the spine was held neutral. This is the same spinal position used when you’re running, squatting, doing a pull-up, or performing a heavy deadlift.
8) Yoga can be a Legitimate Workout
Yoga can be hard, really hard if you’re not used to it. But unlike a challenging WOD, you probably won’t throw up at the end. On the contrary, you’ll get a ten-minute supervised nap with a lullaby. You’ll most likely emerge from a yoga class feeling calm, present, and relaxed instead of feeling like you were just run over by a truck.
9) Yoga Builds Community
CrossFit is all about community, and so is yoga. Anytime you bring people together with a common focus or goal, those people will feel connected to each other. The root of the word yoga in means to yoke, join together or connect. The essence of yoga is the concept that if we connect deeper to ourselves, our bodies, our breath, and the present moment then we ultimately will connect more deeply to one another.
10) Yoga is Fun!
In my yoga classes (and not just CrossFit yoga classes) we laugh, playfully make jokes to each other, breathe together, and even hang out upside down. Occasionally you may even find me wearing a shirt that says “Namaste Bitches.”
I always encourage my participants to enjoy their lives, and live in the present moment…because believe it or not, that’s what we’re supposed to do!
Seriously. Just do yoga already. It will improve your CrossFit training, make your outlook on life a bit more positive, and could potentially transform you into an even better human being.