By Guest Blogger Paula Jager CSCS
Another path to achieving balance and improved flexibility in your life and fitness routine is the addition of a yoga practice. Some would argue that the intense all out effort of CrossFit and other similar strength & conditioning programs along with the “go hard or go home” mentality is the antithesis of yoga. And to a degree they are absolutely correct; but it is a workout not a practice. In a strength and conditioning program the goal is the ability to move large loads, long distances quickly; in yoga the ultimate goal is a deeper meditation through movement linked with breath. One is competitive and one is not. Yet, they make a beautiful marriage–the answer lies in the balance they provide. One emphasizes strength, speed, power, agility and endurance which require a mind body connection, flexibility and focus while yoga emphasizes a mind body connection, flexibility and focus which require strength, speed, power and agility.
The flexibility derived from yoga will enable one to avoid injury and recover faster. The mind body connections developed through yoga makes it easier to adjust form and technique in a strength program. The strength gains will improve your yoga practices. You begin to achieve a balance that is not possible doing only one. From a fitness point of view, yoga is essentially a gymnastics program. It’s great for bodyweight strength, body control and structure and flexibility and depending on the style, it’s not bad for muscular endurance, at least in static holds.
Part of a successful strength and conditioning program is having varied and challenging movements as part of the workouts. While yoga may not incorporate the high intensity element of the CrossFit workouts, it uses our bodies in different ways than we use it on other days in the gym. One day you may be working on the quick movement in the Olympic snatch and the next day in yoga you could be working on shoulder stability in a pose like side plank followed by other intense poses to improve the flexibility in your shoulders that will allow you to better perform the snatch without injury.
Finding the Balance. . .
Balance does not only mean the balance training you receive in yoga balancing poses. That type of balance is essential for our health as we age and allows us to remain functional both in and outside of the gym. It also gives us a change to balance workout days with active rest days. Finding a point between stretching and strengthening our muscles, our minds and thoughts is crucial to optimal results. Without this balance we are more prone to injuries of both body and mind.
. . . and the Awareness
When in the middle of an intense fast paced workout we should always pay attention to our form but due to the quickness of the exercises we may not be paying attention to how our body feels while moving it. Yoga will help to bring an awareness of how our body feels when we are moving it. If in a workout pressing overhead you feel tightness or discomfort in your shoulder; the next day in your yoga practice you could focus on the same movement slower and with more awareness. You may notice when in the movement that you feel discomfort and adjust your form or may find it is because of a lack of flexibility in the shoulder. By becoming more aware of your body it becomes easier to find ways to help your body function better both in and out of the gym.
There’s a time to go full throttle and a time for “Om”. As with Pilates, yoga is a great compliment to your strength and conditioning workouts. Not only for taking them to the next level but also helping to reduce stress, calm the mind and find release.
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results