You might be wondering why CrossFit and Yoga would even be mentioned in relation to each other because on the surface, they seem to exist in completely different areas of the fitness world.
For one, CrossFit is a relatively new concept whereas Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years.
That being said, both are super popular in modern day fitness and are some leading fitness trends right now with people all over the world experimenting with ‘hot’ Yoga, Power Yoga, even puppy Yoga - you name it - and ‘CrossFitters’ are making CrossFit a part of their everyday lives.
So, why would we want to compare the two passions? Well, CrossFit and Yoga actually have a lot more in common than you might think.
If you’re considering taking up a new exercise program but aren’t sure which will work best for you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will take a close look at CrossFit and Yoga, their differences and similarities, benefits and more! You might find practicing both will be super beneficial. Keep reading to find out.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit training is an extremely popular workout regime used in gyms, homes and outdoor spaces all over the world.
The training program was created by Greg Glassman in 2000 and has since grown into one of the most loved trademarked fitness programs to date.
In fact, the fitness craze has become more of a lifestyle than just a workout for lots of dedicated ‘CrossFitters’.
A typical CrossFit session consists of various exercises, weights and positions and typically requires a certain level of fitness to be able to withstand an entire workout.
The adrenaline-pumping routine combines weightlifting, plyometrics and gymnastics to create a high-intensity fitness program that sees people become completely dedicated to the lifestyle and will typically incorporate CrossFit into their everyday lives.
The main goal of CrossFit is to take typical daily activities like lifting, stretching and squatting and adding higher weights and faster movements to improve stamina, flexibility and strength.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. In its original form, it was a practice aimed to create a union between the mind, body, and spirit and was passed down from teacher to student.
Fast-forward to modern day fitness, and Yoga is a widely practiced form of exercise across the globe and exists in various forms and has been interpreted and developed over and over. Now, you can indulge in Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and more (or just plain old Yoga).
A typical Yoga class will combine physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation to promote well-being, flexibility, endurance and strength.
CrossFit vs Yoga
As you can see, the main difference between these fitness methods is that CrossFit is a high impact practice and Yoga is low impact.
But, you might be starting to notice some similarities between the two from what you’ve read so far. Despite their obvious differences, both practices focus on improving flexibility, endurance and strength.
Let’s take a further look at the benefits of each workout to see how they can actually complement each other.
CrossFit aims to build stamina, strength and endurance and is designed specifically to push you beyond your limits.
The major physical benefits include:
- Improved strength
- Increased flexibility
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improved stamina
- Increased speed
While CrossFit focuses more on physical improvements, there are mental health benefits to regularly incorporating CrossFit into your everyday life too.
Some mental health benefits include:
- Improved mental health due to the release of endorphins following a sweaty CrossFit session
- The chance to create and build relationships as a result of working out as part of a class or team. The social nature of CrossFit is also great for boosting mood and making friends
Yoga is praised worldwide for its physical and mental health benefits and, when practiced regularly, Yoga can totally shift your outlook on life and equip you with breathing and coping techniques that can be applied to numerous life situations.
Some main mental health benefits include:
- Mental clarity
- Stress relief
- Increased focus
- Promotes calmness
- Can ease depression and anxiety
While the mental health benefits are super important, modern-day Yoga is predominantly practiced for its low-impact physical benefits too.
Some of these benefits include:
- Improved flexibility
- Stability and balance
- Improved strength
- Reduced blood pressure and improved heart health
- Increased stamina
So, there’s actually a lot that these two practices have in common, who knew, right? So, taking these similar benefits into consideration, incorporating a mix of both into your life could actually be super beneficial, as they can complement each other very well.
In fact, lots of CrossFitters have started incorporating Yoga into their weekly fitness routine and have found it can deliver great results!
How does Yoga complement CrossFit training?
Yoga poses can engage several aspects of our bodies and can hugely benefit any athlete, particularly a CrossFitter.
The most useful poses will engage one or all of the following: balance, coordination, core, breathing, strength.
Let’s take a deeper look at how practicing Yoga can help your CrossFit game.
If you were to incorporate Yoga into your weekly fitness plan, you would benefit from increased balance and coordination when doing CrossFit exercises that require these strengths. A good example of this is the walking lunge with an overhead kettlebell.
This move requires amazing balance and coordination as you need to balance a weight above your head while you dip down on each leg, which can really test your balance.
That’s where Yoga poses come in. A huge aspect of Yoga is balanced poses, such as the Tree pose. This pose requires you to stand tall and straight, while balancing on one leg with your arms above your head. This pose has a lot of similar movements to the walking lunge example.
Yoga poses aren’t all about balance, though, they also focus a lot on core engagement. This can be a huge benefit for CrossFitters, particularly when attempting any gymnastics poses.
A great Yoga pose for core engagement is the Boat pose. This pose is actually pretty similar to a common core move used in CrossFit training: V Ups.
Both moves focus on strengthening the core by sitting on the ground and raising the legs towards the chest. Practicing the Boat pose will improve your V Ups and any other gymnastics exercises used in CrossFit.
A huge aspect of CrossFit is working on strength and flexibility, two things that Yoga masters will have perfected.
Lots of more advanced Yoga poses put a huge strain on the upper back, shoulders and arms, such as the Crane pose.
This pose improves both your upper body strength and core muscles and requires heaps of dedication as well as breathing and balance. Even the strongest CrossFitter will likely be unable to perfect this pose without lots of practice.
A huge aspect of Yoga is breathing. This is referred to as Pranayama and is fundamental. Breathing control is actually harder to master than you might think, and it’s actually an important part of CrossFit, too.
The aim of Pranayama is for the person to be able to use their breathing to increase energy, improve mental clarity and release stress. Being able to have this much control over your breathing would massively improve your stamina during CrossFit training.
Best Yoga poses that will complement CrossFit
Let's take a look at some of the best Yoga poses to improve your balance, coordination, strength and breathing.
1. Wide Leg Forward Fold
The wide leg forward pose stretches the inner thighs and encourages the external rotation of the hips.
Perfecting this move will be beneficial when it comes to CrossFit exercises such as box jumps, squats and lunges.
Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: begin with your hands on your hips and feet parallel to each other, in a wide stance
- so that your feet are at least wider than your hips
- Step 2: inhale and lift with your chest and engage your thigh muscles as you draw them up
- Step 3: exhale and lean forward at the hips, maintaining a long torso, until your torso is parallel to the floor
- Step 4: press your fingers onto the floor in line with your shoulders and fully extend your elbows
- Step 5: keep your neck long and bring your head up, so you’re looking at the ceiling, while simultaneously pushing your thighs back to keep your torso nice and long. Breathe calmly
- Step 6: then, continue to bend downwards into a full forward bend and rest your head on the ground
- Step 7: hold the pose for up to one minute before slowly bending upwards, pushing your fingers against the floor to help you as you go until you are back to the starting position
2. Upward plank pose
The upward plank pose stretches the pecs and shoulders and strengthens the shoulders, arms, wrists and legs and opens the front of the hips and ankles.
Perfecting this move will be beneficial when it comes to CrossFit exercises such as barbell incline bench presses and push-ups.
Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: begin by sitting on the ground with your legs outstretched, torso straight and your palms flat on the floor just behind your hips and facing towards your feet, shoulder-width apart
- Step 2: point your toes and engage your legs and inhale
- Step 3: exhale as you lift your hips off the ground towards the ceiling, pushing all the power through your palms and feet. Make sure your legs and arms remain fully extended and engage the buttocks
- Step 4: squeeze your shoulder blades as if they are moving towards each other and relax your head back, so you are gazing at the ceiling, this will stretch your chest
- Step 5: hold for a few seconds, breathing normally and keeping everything engaged, then lower back to the starting position
3. Crow pose
The upward plank pose will increase core strength, wrist and forearm muscles, and your upper back while improving your balance.
Perfecting this move will be beneficial when it comes to CrossFit exercises such as rope climbs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: begin standing straight with your arms relaxed at your sides and your feet side by side and breathe calmly
- Step 2: bend your knees and squat down until you are in a crouching position with your feet either side of your buttocks. Place your palms just in front of your toes
- Step 3: lift the soles of your feet so that you are on your tiptoes and bend your elbows, so they are at a 90-degree angle and place your knees at the back of the top of your arms
- Step 4: start the shift the weight of your body onto your hands by moving your upper body forward slowly
- Step 5: engage your core and lift your toes off the floor, squeezing your midline for balance
- Step 6: hold for a few seconds and lower back to the crouching position before slowly standing back up
4. Crescent Lunge
The Crescent lunge pose stretches the hips, legs, groin and opens the shoulders, chest and front torso.
Perfecting this move will be beneficial when it comes to CrossFit exercise such as lunges and will better your strength when doing deadlifts and other squat moves.
Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: begin already in the low lunge position with your back knee touching the floor. Your hands should be resting on the front knee
- Step 2: inhale as you raise your arms over your head, then exhale and push into a lower lunge bending your back slightly
- Step 3: hold there for a few breaths, then slowly return to the starting position
Despite appearances, CrossFit and Yoga are actually the perfect pairing! We hope this article has inspired you to incorporate Yoga and/ or CrossFit into your exercise regime.