Most of us are more or less familiar with yoga, less so with CrossFit. Saying that, its popularity has grown quickly in the last few years to the point that unless you live on a desert island, there’s no doubt that you have heard of it. Some feel intimidated by it, but the ones who are not, love it!
A common misconception is that most people see CrossFit as being all about lifting heavy weights and doing high intensity workouts only. It is true to some extent, but there is way more to CrossFit than that. CrossFit is not a building-muscles-and-looking-like-a-potato discipline (CrossFitters are much leaner and smaller than weightlifters). It’s also not all about the look: one can see males and females of all shapes, sizes and ages working out and having fun at CrossFit boxes all over the world! Community spirit is definitely one of the defining features of CrossFit. Some call it a cult, some call it a tribe, but for others it has become a way of life!
And, similar to yoga, it benefits not only physical, but many other aspects of our life as well.
Love it or hate it, yoga has been proven to bring tremendous physical and (especially) psychological results. The success of yoga lies in the fact that apart from being a physical discipline, it has its impact on different aspects of our life and wellbeing:
1. Regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control, while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being.
2. Sustained practice also leads to important outcomes such as changes in life perspective, self-awareness and an improved sense of energy to live life fully and with genuine enjoyment.
3. Yoga helps to relax your nervous system, which leads to a better sleep.
4. Meditation and relaxation aspects help with a racing mind, which leads to a better concentration and clearer thinking.
5. Twists, bridges and other asanas (postures or poses in other words) in yoga aid in bettering your metabolism, which then leads to increases in energy, faster calorie burn, and also helps you in utilizing more vitamins and minerals.
6. Early yoga practice makes you energized for the day ahead.
7. Asana, meditation or a combination of the two can reduce pain and disability while improving flexibility and functional mobility in people with a number of conditions causing chronic pain.
Yoga and Crossfit share a number of the same benefits
1. CrossFit improves your strength and endurance, and so does yoga. The only difference is yoga is a purely bodyweight form of exercise while CrossFit is not. The stronger you are, the more advanced postures requiring strong arms, legs and core you can get into.
2. The mindfulness of yoga helps with better concentration during the class, weightlifting and WODs (workouts of the day).
3. Yoga helps to maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain. During a yoga session, the joints are taken through their full range of motion, squeezing and soaking areas of cartilage not often used and bringing fresh nutrients, oxygen and blood to the area, which helps to prevent conditions like arthritis and chronic pain.
The muscle strengthening you get from yoga and the muscle building (and strengthening) you get from CrossFit complement each other very well:
1. Balance postures in yoga are not just about coordination; they also concentrate on stretching, core engagement, strengthening and calming our mind. All these could benefit a CrossFitter in many ways: every heavy lift requires core engagement; every overhead lift requires good balance, etc.
2. Breathing (pranayama) is an integral part of yoga and is hugely beneficial for CrossFitters in many ways. Yoga is a practice linked entirely to the breath. Establishing a full even rhythmic breath is the first tenant of Yoga. This translates beautifully to all of the elements of CrossFit, from Olympic lifting to conditioning, and will really improve your performance if you can master balanced breathing. It will also translate to a more peaceful mind.
3. Naughty fact alert: yoga and CrossFit could help improve your sex life! The fitter you are, the stronger you are, the more flexible you are the better sex life you will have and the happier, less stressed person you are going to be. Win – win! CrossFit and yoga are joining forces to take your sex life to the next level.
4. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. Flexibility and suppleness that yoga develops can bring your CrossFit training to the next level: overhead squats, back squats, deep ring dips, squat clean, and other movements can benefit hugely from yoga practice. Ankle mobility, which is so underestimated but so essential for the majority of the movements, improves with specific yoga postures.
5. Yoga helps with muscle tightness and soreness that you can experience after a CrossFit workout. Yoga helps to loosen you up after a training session, speeds up recovery, and reduces soreness.
Having done CrossFit for 2 years and yoga for 5, my overall performance in both disciplines has improved drastically over the last 2 years. One complements the other tremendously! The quietness, peacefulness, reflectiveness of yoga and aggressiveness, loudness, and competitiveness (in a good way) of CrossFit keeps your body and mind in balance.
The verdict: Coupling of yoga and CrossFit creates a more balanced athlete.