CrossFit is a mix of metabolic conditioning, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and sport. Athletes complete workouts that combine these elements creatively, in addition to following a balanced nutrition plan designed by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman.
CrossFit does have unique demands, but its athletes can still reap huge benefits from including yoga in their program. A consistent yoga practice can help in more ways than one: It increases strength, flexibility, and mobility, leading to more efficient warm-ups, improvement in the workouts themselves, and faster recovery.
CrossFit athletes are used to training at high intensities and pushing their bodies to the absolute limit, so they must carve out time in their day to do the opposite and truly slow down to give their body the rest it needs. Here are the top five poses that I recommend CrossFit athletes implement into their morning or post-WOD routine:
Headstands, Forearm Stands, and Handstands
CrossFit workouts are known to include handstand push-ups and handstand walking, particularly if you are considered advanced in the sport. Yoga also has all of the above. In performing yoga inversions, you use your breath to control balance and press-up speed while learning how best to utilize your core, which makes them a powerful tool to have in your gym belt.
Practicing transitions from headstand to forearm stand, opening the back in hollow backs, and working on perfect handstand alignment is a great way to warm up before your training sessions.
Planks and Chaturanga
Yoga push-ups and plank holds make an amazing warm-up, and you can also do them as core-strengthening drills. The beauty is that you can do them anytime and anywhere. CrossFit does require incredible core and upper-body strength for all sorts of movements, so by practicing these at a low intensity and utilizing the breath and yoga bandhas—or muscular "locks"—you're re-enforcing how to use your whole body properly to perform them. Quads, calves, heels, hips—they all do the work. Planks just don't work your upper body!
Practicing hanumanasana the right way opens up the hips and hip flexors and allows the body to settle in without any pushing or pulling. With all the squatting, running, rowing, and burpees that are programmed into CrossFit workouts, your lower body will thank you for prioritizing this yoga pose.
Be aware that it can take time to get comfortable with the pose and the proper breathing technique. Hamstring tendons are very fragile, so passively stretching them out with the help of gravity as the main force does wonders in the long run.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Rope climbs, pull-ups, and ring muscle-ups require a great deal of back strength and shoulder mobility. Yoga has a lot of moves that incorporate the back muscles and shoulders, but bow is probably one of the best poses that work on both together.
The more you're able to open your shoulders, the more you can engage the lats and lift yourself higher off the ground. Inhaling into the lift brings in fresh energy and allows the body to open up naturally.
Downward Dog Pike
All yoga moves work on the core, as bandhas need to be engaged no matter what you do. In CrossFit, the core is heavily involved in the gymnastics component—stability is everything. Incorporating some downward dog pikes lights that core fire and prepares you for engaging it throughout your workout.
Knowing how to use your breath properly without simply holding it in increases your stamina and improves muscle tone. Abs are just muscles, like every other, but keeping them engaged the whole time protects your lower back—especially in the big compound movements that CrossFit uses regularly.
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