The Synergy of Yoga and CrossFit

In many ways CrossFit and Yoga are polar opposites – CrossFit is fast and intense where Yoga is slow, methodical and reflective. So it’s understandable that people that are attracted to the intensity of CrossFit might not prioritize having a regular Yoga practice.

In Crossfit you build strength by tearing the muscle fibres and they heal into stronger muscle. Yoga heals and massages your muscles while providing balance with a space away from the constant pushing to get better and reach new PRs.

Yoga also has a synergistic effect on many of the skills required for CrossFit including:

  1. Increasing your mobility. Yoga lengthens your muscles and helps alleviate compressed joints. This can help reduce pain in the lower back, spine and hips. It also will help with your form, especially in lifts and gymnastic movements.
  2. Improving your alignment. Yoga helps your awareness of safe alignment and understanding of your body. This is particularly helpful when you are lifting large amounts of weight.
  3. Building stability by lengthening and strengthening your core and spine. Core strength and stability is essential to all the work you do in CrossFit. In AMRAP and for time workouts as you get tired you lose form. Yoga trains you to hold alignment in chaotic situations.
  4. Breath awareness and control. Breath can be the difference between getting or missing that PR and also helps with safety in your lifts. Yoga cultivates breath awareness through pranayama (breath control) and the Ujjayi breathing (also known as oceanic breath) through your practice.

While there are many Yoga practices, restorative types of Yoga are the best compliment to CrossFit. Active practices like Vinyasa or Hot Yoga are designed to be an intense workout and can further strain and stress your muscles. Restorative practices like Yin Yoga and Gentle Vinyasa are designed to stretch and heal tissues: fascia, ligaments, and joints.

We are lucky to have partnered with The Little Yoga Studio who have created a specialty class called Yoga for Athletes and CrossFit taught by Alex Smith. Alex is also a CrossFit Sanitas member and since she does the WODs, she knows exactly what muscles to focus during this class. The class is designed to warm up fast twitch muscles used in CrossFit to make them more receptive to longer holds that lengthen your fascia and increase your mobility.

Yoga for Athletes and CrossFit is run at 7:45pm on Thursdays and 2:45pm on Saturdays at the Little Yoga Studio. It’s free for CrossFit Sanitas members, so you have no excuse not to give yourself some time to relax and restore.

In the meantime, Alex has put together her recommendations for the postures you can practice regularly after your WODs.

1. Kneeling Toe Stretch

This pose is to release the plantar fascia, the thick connective tissue that run along the bottoms of your feet. Avoid it if you have inflammation of the plantar fascia.

Begin by sitting on your heels with the feet together. Tuck the toes under and try to be on the balls of the feet, not the tippy-toes. Reach down and tuck the little toes under.

You can add weight to this pose by sitting on your heals. If you don’t have the flexibility for this, you can alleviate weight by putting your hands on the ground in front of you.

Achilles Stretch

2. Assisted Squat

Use the rig or a piece of furniture to support you into holding a

Assisted Squat

3. Lizard Pose

From plank position, step your right foot between your hands to a lunge position. Bring both forearms to the floor inside the right leg. Keep your inner left thigh lifting and resisting. As your left heel reaches back, your heart opens forward to create length in your upper back. Hold for a minute and then switch sides.

You can modify the pose by bringing your back knee down or placing your forearms on a block.

Lizard Pose

4. Pigeon Pose

Kneel on the ground and stretch your right leg out straight behind you, and bend your left knee so that your left foot is near your right pelvic bone with your toes pointed towards your knee.
Place your hands on the ground slightly in front of you for balance.

Begin to move your chest towards your ground until you feel a good stretch with your weight distributed evenly between your hips to keep them aligned.

Hold for a minute and switch sides.

Pigeon Pose

5. Forward Fold

From a seated position, inhale and draw the spine up long.

As you exhale, begin to come forward, hinging at the hips. Keep the neck at the natural extension of the spine and don’t round your back.

Hold your ankles or shins, whichever you can reach.

Forward Fold

See you Thursdays at 7:45pm and 2:45pm for Yoga for Athletes and CrossFit!