Hear me out, don’t run away screaming: “Yoga is for soccer moms and guys who want me to sit in a circle playing bongos”. The truth is, it’s not. Yoga may have gotten that rap over the past few years, but to be cliché “Don’t knock it till you try it”. Chances are you may be already doing some yoga moves in your Mobility work, Pigeon Stretch (aka Pigeon Pose), child’s pose, cobra stretches and so on all have their roots in Yoga.
Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters
Knowing where your body is in space and how it’s oriented is not only good for your day to day health and well-being, but it also becomes extremely important in Olympic level lifts. When your coach tells you to “Stick your butt out when you squat!” or “Keep your shins vertical!” knowing how that feels and being aware of that will be critical to actually getting in the right position to perform the lift. I come from a yoga background prior to starting CrossFit, one thing that is always stressed is “engaging of the pelvic floor and deep core to support the lower back” just like CrossFitters do in squats or snatches. That bit came easy to me because I already KNEW what it felt like to be in that proper position. Body awareness matters.
Yoga isn’t going to up your back-squat PR by 50lbs, but it will help you develop strength, stability, and muscle endurance. The balance poses alone will strengthen your joints preventing future injury when increasing your lifting weight, and some of the positions that you hold are quite challenging leaving you sore the next day just like a good WOD.
This seems to be a given, but notice how much Yoga movements reflect the mobility movements you are more than likely already doing pre- and/or post WOD. These exercises will help to stretch out your muscular system and become more flexible so your body is free to do deep squats, kipping, and overhead press.
Should You Do It?
Absolutely! As an athlete I feel it’s important to strengthen your whole body through a variety of means, but also strengthen yourself mentally by means of relaxation. Yoga works the body, mind and spirit. When this trio is out of balance things begin to break down and you will find yourself injured, sick, depressed, etc. Balance in your routine is key. But the bottom line is that you’ll gain benefits in mobility and flexibility that you might not gain as quickly by only doing CrossFit.