I have to thank Crossfit for getting me started in Yoga.
The CrossFit methodology of training in a wide variety of modalities for long term health makes total sense to me.
In fact, I think it’s the only way to achieve good, long term fitness across the board.
It's no good just having good aerobic capacity if your body isn’t strong and mobile.
Similarly, you should be able to control your own body before you go and start lifting some heavy ass weight. You wouldn’t build a house on shaky ground.
And before you move into high-intensity workouts with complex lifts and gymnastics, your body needs to be able to move efficiently.
This is why the Crossfit way of thinking is the best way of training for all-round, long term health.
However, the foundations of movement are still either ignored or less of a priority, which means you aren’t making the most of your time in the box.
Which brings us to the 8 reasons every cross fitter should be doing yoga.
Yoga is the key to a solid foundation
Mobility and Flexibility are pre-requisites to movement.
Every exercise you can think of in Crossfit encourages strength and balance in the whole body for efficient movement. You ain’t going to find tiny moves like bicep curls here.
With that in mind, Yoga is the key to optimising range of motion and creating strength in that movement.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I like to think I can squat pretty damn well. Ass to grass, knees over toes, chest up and no buckling.
But ask me to do this with a barbell over my head and it’s a different game entirely. It’s the same body but the dynamics and the ask of my body has changed simply by raising my arms above my head.
Clearly, there’s imbalance here.
Increasing the range of motion and mobility in the structure of the body will allow for this movement to happen.
If you’re serious about making the most of your training and eliminating weaknesses, you’ll want to lay a strong foundation first and that’s where yoga can help you.
Yoga helps you recover faster
Crossfit is seriously intense…like, really intense!
Athletes push their bodies to the limits every single day they enter the box. There’s nowhere to hide in a workout…you will be left on your back.
But we can’t keep our foot on the accelerator and expect the engine to still be in tip top condition. It needs a bit of maintenance and recovery.
Slow styles of Yoga, such as Yin and Hatha, can help bring balance back to the body which will help speed up recovery. It doesn’t just focus on the muscles, but the joints, ligaments and the mind too.
Yoga has been proven to reduce DOMs too.
So if Fran left you with sore legs and lats on fire, yoga will help to reduce soreness and get you back at your best quicker.
Yoga safeguards you from injury
There was a quote from a UFC fighter a while back, where they were discussing pain thresholds and injury.
Talking about having their foot pulled back, they said “if I can get my foot into that position naturally then I’m not going to feel enough pain to give in”.
It’s not just martial arts that this holds true but for life and Crossfit too.
Coming to the end of a WOD is when you’re reps are more likely to be a bit shaky. Best will in the world, not every rep is going to be bang on.
If you’re muscles and joints are stiff, the slightest twist or bend could end up with an injury. By creating space in the body, you’re preventing that from happening.
Yoga increases relative strength
Part of Crossfit's focus is on gymnastics, which calls for a strong midline that transfers energy and power into the limbs.
Gymnastics and yoga go hand in hand since the focus is on bodyweight strength.
By focusing on strengthening postures, you’re increasing your ability to control your body that leads to improved performance in things like handstand pushups, pistols and muscle-ups.
Yoga will improve biomechanics
Now that we’ve created space in the joints and increased flexibility in the muscles, we now have the opportunity to improve activation in the right muscles, in the right sequence without limitations holding us back.
By removing the barriers of inefficient joints and tight muscles, we’re free to teach our bodies the correct way of working and train not just the body but the mind as well to facilitate good movement.
Think of tight muscles and stiff joints as a dam stopping the flow of energy.
As you're trying to generate power and energy through the body into the limbs, this can lead to sub-par performance if we have an energy block.
If you’re new to squatting, for example, you’ll teach yourself bad habits if you had tight hips or ankles by way of compensating for that inefficiency. The lower back could tuck if you have tight hips, knees buckle in etc.
If you fix these, you’ll then have the space available to go back and fix these issues, focusing on sitting the hips back on the descent to fix the tuck and knees out to fix the buckle.
If we had that space available from the off, we could train with the right biomechanics at the start and not have to go back and fix it.
All the more reason to take a foundational view of fitness and work up.
Speaking of foundation up…
Yoga improves your breathing
Sounds silly, since we all breath…naturally (or at least I hope we do?…) but taking control of your breath yields insane results very quickly in terms of performance. It’s such an ignored and underrated area of fitness that breathing is rarely a discussion point.
Unless you’re in the world of Yoga.
Using Pranayama and other breathing techniques, you’re bringing awareness to the internal world of your body. By way of example, if you’re aware of the effects of breathing in on the descent of a squat and breathing out through pursed lips on the way up, what you’re doing is bracing the body for a more stable movement.
Incredibly helpful when you have 150kg+ on your back!
Running during WODs has always been a bugbear of mine, simply because I feel like I’m power jogging when I’m coming to the end of a WOD.
One of my peers, hearing me gasping for air, told me to focus on my breathing and control it…harder than it sounds but breath deep when your body is crying out for faster inhales.
Almost instantly, I picked up the pace and found extra energy in the tank.
Yoga marries breathing to movement and focuses on this as the starting point for life force and energy. If you take this practice into your gymnastics and Olympic lifts, it’s going to give you that extra edge you need.
In Crossfit, an extra rep or few kilos can make the difference.
Yoga improves your focus levels
Bringing yoga into your practice gives you the time to focus on yourself and ignore distractions. It’s an inward way of working but the benefits transfer to Crossfit too.
Losing concentration in the middle of a lift or workout can derail your performance. By training yourself in yoga to focus on yourself, improve your ability to feel your way into the nuances of each movement and become better at ignoring outside influences, you’re cultivating the skill to just focus on the graft that needs to be done.
Yoga helps you relax
It’s good to unwind!
With Crossfit being one of the most intense forms of working out there is, it’s good to relax the body. I’ve touched on this earlier but another thing we need relaxation from that can hinder your Crossfit performance is the stresses of day to day life.
This may be stress at work, family and home life or any other form of stress that takes your attention away from the moment.
By bringing yoga into the mix, you have the tools to be able to calm the mind and manage the stresses, which is obviously beneficial in your overall life (no one wants to be stressed) but setting you up for success in your WODs too.
Yoga is the Yin to Crossfits Yang. Bring some asanas into your life and see the benefits mount up.
In a bit.