On surface level, CrossFit and yoga seem like two drastic disciplines that cannot possibly be related to each other. But just like yin and yang, they can complement each other. CrossFitters can hit new PRs and crush their WODs if they accompany their regular practice with yoga. Here’s how:
Flexibility and Mobility
Flexibility and mobility are just as important as power and strength. You can still be strong in many areas and still suffer from tightness in others, which means that you are missing out on opportunities to become stronger. Inflexible hip flexors and shoulder muscles, for instance, limit the performance during squats. Flexibility in the wrists is important during front squats, while tight chest muscles pose an obstacle during back squats.
Asana poses in yoga help address problems of tightness in muscle groups. Downward facing dog can help improve squats by stretching the calves, hip flexors, hamstrings, back muscles, and shoulder muscles. Warrior II pose, on the other hand, can open up the chest muscles and stretch the hip flexors. Yoga poses like these are effective in working rotation of hip and shoulders, which will in turn improve your flexibility and mobility.
Breathing and Endurance
A lot of athletes take proper breathing for granted, even in CrossFit. Yet, proper breathing is essential in performing our different movements. It is not uncommon to see people in the box who prolong holding their breath because they think it makes them push with more power, especially when lifting heavy weights. However, this will not produce the desired results in many workouts. Improper breathing deals damage to the blood circulation, and lowers the power that you can exert during critical movements. It also compromises the endurance because the inefficient blood circulation depletes oxygen supply. The timing of your breathing is evidently important in exercises like rowing. It is best to exhale during the drive phase and inhale during the recovery phase. This breathing pattern will maximize your power output, and ultimately achieve your target PR.
CrossFitters will benefit a lot from Vinyasa Yoga. This branch of yoga connects the movement and the breath. Transitions to poses are linked by breathing, making the movements look and feel fluid and powerful. Awareness and proper timing breathing can be carried over to others movements, so that performance is more powerful and endurance is sustained for as long as possible.
Balance is a key skill in CrossFit. Without it, you become wobbly and unstable when you perform your workouts. This is crucial especially when doing WODs that involve high rep bar movements like Fran, Isabel, Elizabeth and Grace. The tree pose seems like a simple asana, but it is very effective in building balance. You build stability in tree pose by making sure that your foot is planted firmly on the ground, but at the same time you open your chest up to the sky. In effect, you are pushing yourself to the ground and pulling yourself up to the sky. Furthermore, the tree pose requires the use of your powerhouse muscles to stay balanced in the tree pose.
Posture and Positioning
These two are very much related to balance. Asanas like the tree pose also encourage good posture and positioning. The tree pose requires a neutral spine and square hips in order to stay balanced, for example. Yoga is a practice that encourages proper posture and positioning in order to stay balanced in a pose for prolonged periods. Asanas promote the use of the powerhouse as the primary source of power, allowing that power to flow to the extremities.
Positioning and posture are not only crucial to crushing your WODs, they are also essential in staying safe while you’re at it. If you topple over while doing that kettlebell swing, the heavy kettlebell might just fall on your foot. Also, when going for that PR on your deadlift, proper back posture is crucial.
With Crossfit being such an explosive and intense sport, a series of yoga poses will be very helpful in catching your breath and stretching your muscles. Give yourself enough time to recover after a WOD. Your muscles need to rest and recover to improve performance in the next workout. Squeeze in a yoga session in your rest/active recovery days.
I personally have seen the benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters. My first go-around of 14.5 was really bad and I was foolish enough to give it another try. I attended a yoga class before re-doing it and came the WOD, I felt more mobile doing those thursters and I was able to maintain proper breathing especially when doing those bar facing burpees. Needless to say, I shaved off some precious minutes in my second try of 14.5
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