Yoga is not only a good way to relax your mind and body, it is also being praised for improving Crossfit performance. Yoga creates more flexibility and creates more mobility, which are beneficial for the rigors of Crossfit as well as reducing the risk of injury.
While the practices are different in many ways, Crossfit and yoga actually have a lot in common, so if you practice yoga, it’s can be easier to learn to practice Crossfit, and vice versa.
Benefits of Yoga for Crossfit:
Here are a few reasons why you should consider using yoga as a part of your crossfit training regime.
Yoga has many gentle poses that develop your core which is an important part to Crossfit. Being capable of balancing and holding the body with the core is essential. When you regularly practice yoga, you promote strength, endurance, and flexibility and have a greater awareness of how to use your core effectively. You also find your inner strength which is important in Crossfit training.
You practice cultivating calm, in challenging moments in yoga, and that can really help during Crossfit.
Yoga can help us have more fun in Crossfit. Studies have found that yoga allows you to become more self-aware and improves your energy levels, helping you to enjoy life more fully. Sometimes in Crossfit, training and progress becomes such a focus point that we forget to be light and have fun. Yoga can help here.
Yoga also helps people sleep better because it relaxes your nervous system. This is crucial for anyone training in any demanding athletic endeavor.
The twists and bridges in yoga help your metabolism increase which leads to more energy. The body burns more calories and better utilizes vitamins and minerals.
Greater range of motion in your joints.
Yoga helps your back become more flexible an strong as well.
Why is Flexibility and Mobility Important?
Stretching focuses on lengthening and shortening tight muscles which is really important for preventing injury. Mobilization is a bit different. It is a full-body approach that focuses on all elements of limited movement.
With all parts of the body being connected, if even one area is out of alignment, not strong enough, or not flexible enough, you can’t maximize what you body is capable of doing. For example, when lifting a barbell, you can’t stack it over your spine, heels, and hips without overextending your lower lumbar. Becoming more mobile in the shoulders will allow you to hold a barbell properly and stack it through your midline with very little stress.
What is Mobility?
Mobility is the sum of your joint range of motion, muscular tension, soft tissue, joint capsule restrictions, tendon resilience, and knowing how to form your movements. When you better develop your mobility, you’ll become more stabilized which gives you greater muscle balance and strength. This includes core strength which protects the spine.
Mobility and flexibility helps you to move your legs and arms in their full range of motion. Yoga helps with this, and these benefits will make you stronger in Crossfit.
When you can accomplish increasing mobility through yoga, you also reduce injury risk and have a greater ability to achieve whatever techniques you’re working on. You also have greater power output and more productive workouts.
Yoga and Flexibility for Safer Training
Ultimately, combining yoga with Crossfit is going to ensure your safety. Safety is one of the Crossfit charters and an important aspect to the discipline. Injuries are most likely to happen when Crossfit athletes make fast movements that engage the joints incorrectly.
Even the most basic yoga stretches will increase how efficient your motion is throughout the joints, which is the foundation to moving in full range of motion. You exert much less energy lifting the same amount of weight because you’re using the right joints and muscles.
3 Yoga Poses to Strengthen your Crossfit Game
Basic yoga poses will help the body open up to more complex poses that really improve all around strength, flexibility, and balance. The hips, hamstrings, glutes, core, and shoulders need to be stretched out daily to promote better mobility, strengthen posture as well as strengthen the whole body safely.
1. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) . The low lunge stretches out the hip flexors which you carry a lot of tension an are utilized in running and strength exercises.
How to do the pose:
Start by standing at the top of your mat and bring your feet hip-width apart. Begin to bend your knees and put your hands on the mat.
Step your left foot back. Make sure your right knee and ankle are in one line (to protect your knees from injury.)
Keep your knee aligned with your second toes. Press your toes on the mat and lift the arch of your foot to keep it activated.
Your left heel should be towards the earth and the back of your knee towards the sky.
Lengthen your spine and neck and just look straight ahead.
Stay in this pose and breathe deeply into the hip flexors (where the tension is). Stay in this pose for about 15 seconds.
To switch legs, step your left foot forward and the right foot back.
2. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). Bridge pose is an excellent way of stretching the core which is pretty important when it comes to Crossfit because you work it so hard. When you open up your core, it helps you to stand up straighter and creates space for the abdominal organs. This helps them to do their job which is to flush and cleanse toxins.
Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the mat. Bring your heels towards your glutes so you can touch them with your fingertips.
Lift your hips to the sky and activate your thighs, externally rotate your shoulders and open up your chest.
Roll your shoulder blades under your chest and interlace fingers beneath your lower back.
Press your thighs, hips and heart up toward the sky. Breathe here for up to 1 minute as you continue to go further into the pose. Use your breathing to increase flexibility into the pose.
3. Arm Circles with Strap. With arm circles, you stretching the shoulders and create more mobility which is extremely helpful with barbell lifts. The shoulders are incorporated into yoga often. There are tiny stabilizer muscles in the shoulders that can become easily injured if they’re not warm. Creating heat in the shoulders is essential to preventing injury.
Begin with your shins on the mat and hips on your feet. Take a strap, belt or scarf and hold the ends in your hands. Left your hips so you’re standing on your knees. Hold either end of your strap in front of your chest with hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
Breathe in and lift your arms over your head and behind your back. As you breathe out, bring them back in front of your chest.
Breathe in and go back, breathe out and go forward.
To prevent injury, keep your chin parallel to the mat.
Do this 20-30 times or until you feel like you’ve really warmed up the body.
Full yoga sequences that strengthen the main parts of the body that are used in Crossfit will improve your overall performance. Poses like this will warm up the whole body, stretch main muscle groups, increase mobility, and improve balance. The benefits of yoga for crossfit are profound and you’ll find that you’re a lot less prone to pain even when you’re training extremely hard.
These stretches help the body get ready for Crossfit training sessions and competitions. Making them a daily part of your life will allow you to see an overall improvement in flexibility which really does help you avoid injury as well as other benefits.
By Meera Watts
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali).
Connect with Meera:
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining
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