If you are an avid CrossFitter, this is an article for you! Yoga may be the missing piece of your fitness puzzle!
CrossFit is undoubtedly a fantastic way to develop full body strength, and while most CrossFit boxes will place an emphasis on mobility, it is still very easy to acquire imbalances in your body. These imbalances will only become worse if you have a desk job.
One of the core concepts of CrossFit is variety, despite this, there are still a lot of repetitive movements. If you don’t pay attention to mobility or stretching these repetitive movements can easily lead to muscle imbalances, or worse, injuries. This is where yoga can play a vital role. Since I had a niggling injury last Christmas, Emilio and I have been including a lot more yoga in our weekly routine. In relation to CrossFit we have identified three main benefits of yoga:
· Improved muscular form, fewer muscular imbalances. Most yoga poses are practiced on both sides which forces us to work on our weaknesses.
· Less muscular weakness from overuse injuries.
· Better joint mobility and strength. This is critical for many movements in CrossFit.
There are so many yoga poses to choose from and depending on what you did in your WOD there will be some poses that are better suited than others. The following FIVE poses are general poses that can be practiced after any WOD.
Even those of you who have never set foot in a yoga studio before probably know what downward facing dog is. It is a pose that is done so often in a class that it is easy to forget that it is actually an extremely beneficial posture! It is a great stretch for your shoulders, hamstrings, calves and wrists. If you struggle with extremely tight calves post box jumps like me this is a great active stretch. Done correctly it even engages your lats.
The ultimate pose for lower body relief. This is a fantastic pose for releasing hips or even for getting into a tight IT band. It hurts, but the longer you manage to keep the posture, the better! Opening your hips can also be a great way of preventing or getting rid of any back pain. If you have tight hip flexors they will cause your pelvis to tilt forwards which in turn increases the curve in your lower back. My hip flexors have a tendency to tighten up very easily, I try and sit in pigeon for a couple of minutes on each side after every WOD.
This is a great stretch to help release your back, neck and even core post WOD! The flow increases flexibility in the neck, shoulders and spine, it also stretches the muscles in our hips, back and abdomen. This is the ultimate post-thruster drill!!
This is a much harder pose than it seems! The goal of the warrior poses is correct alignment. In CrossFit if you don’t have proper alignment your chances of injury are massively increased. The combination of weights, quick movements and timed workouts can often mean that form is lost. Correct alignment can help to assure that this is less of a risk. Additionally, Warrior II strengthens the legs, opens the hips and the chest.
This is a great pose to help develop better posture. This pose fortifies the back and strengthens the muscles that surround the spine. It can help to realign the spine and to get rid of forward rounded shoulders. It also helps to open up the hips and release tension from hip flexors, which for those of you who work at a desk or who spend extended amounts of time sitting down is imperative!
Emilio and I have included yoga as a major part of our training regimen (if you follow our blog you will no doubt have heard about our yoga journey by now). We were both searching for new challenges, and ways in which to prevent injuries while still training CrossFit and wakeboarding. Yoga has definitely bridged that gap for us and has provided so much more of a challenge than either of us ever expected. From better mobility, to better movements, to better breath control, balance, the list goes on. It is fairly astonishing to see the progress that Emilio has made in just a few months (he is now able to perform a handstand press! Bloody impressive!) Like with everything it is extremely important to find a style and a teacher that suits you in order to really get the most out of it! Tell us about your experiences with yoga!