While Yoga & CrossFit might not come across as the most obvious combination, in reality, there couldn’t be a better match!
CrossFit is a great way to develop full body strength and mobility. Consistently hitting the box hard will eventually lead you to a strong but stiff body. The shortening that the muscles experience after your WOD, can lead to muscle imbalances, especially since most of us spend the rest of the day at a desk or hunched over a laptop. These imbalances are the quickest path to an injury, especially in muscle groups like the back, chest and hip-flexors.
While CrossFit stresses the body; yoga has a restorative effect by releasing tension and lengthening tired muscles. Because of this added suppleness, Yoga greatly reduces the risk of injury.
That is why adding these 5 Asanas to your daily routine is probably the best thing you could do to improve your performance at your favourite CrossFit box. The asanas mentioned below are selected because they don’t need any prior experience with Yoga and will counter the muscle tightness that a CrossFit workout can create. Practice these regularly to achieve the perfect balance between strength and flexibility.
1. Camel Pose i.e. Ustrasana
Stretches and opens the anterior chain, strengthens the back, strengthens the shoulders and improves shoulder mobility, improves flexibility of the spine.
Getting into the Camel Pose:
- Kneel on your mat and place your hands on your hips.
- Knees should be in line with shoulders and the sole of your feet should be facing the ceiling.
- As you inhale, draw in your tail-bone as if being pulled from the navel.
- Arch your back and slide your palms over your feet till the arms are straight and palms are over the heels.
- Keep quads perpendicular to the floor, bending from your back and opening up your chest.
- Breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Slowly bring your hands back to your hips as you straighten up.
Ruchita Shankar performing an advanced version of the Camel Pose
Be mindful about your pelvis staying upright, bend from your back and open up your chest to reach deeper.
2. Wide Leg Forward Fold i.e. Prasarita Padottanasana
Strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine. Opens up your hips, helping you with hip-flexion during squats, lunges, box jumps, etc.
Getting into the Wide Leg Forward Fold
- Stand facing the longer edge of your mat and then step your feet wide apart keeping them parallel to each other.
- Rest your hands on your hips.
- Engage your quads by drawing them up. Inhale and lift your chest elongating your torso.
- Exhale and, maintaining the length of your torso, hinge from your hip. As your torso gets parallel to the floor, press your fingertips onto the floor directly below your shoulders.
- Tip your bodyweight on the balls of your feet, to get deeper into the stretch. Focus on keeping your legs straight
- Breathe and stay for 20-30 seconds.
3. Triangle pose i.e. Trikonasana
Strengthens the hamstrings. Stretches and opens the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine.
Getting into the Triangle Pose
- Stand at the front of your mat.
- Step back about one legs length, making sure that your left foot is about 90 degrees to your right foot.
- Align the centre of your right heel with the arch of the left foot
- Inhale, exhaling bend your body to the right, ensuring your waist is facing the longer edge of the mat.
- Lift your left hand up and let your right hand touch the shin/ankle/foot/ground depending on your comfort and not bending the knees
- Arms should make a straight line, neck should be neutral
- Breathe and feel your chest and pelvis open up. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat on left side.
4. Warrior 1 i.e. Virabhadrasana 1
Opens hips and chest; stretches the spine, stretches & strengthens the arms and legs, improves balance and breathing
Getting into the Warrior 1 Pose:
- Keeping your feet hips-width apart, step your left foot to the back of the mat (about one legs-length) keeping your heels in one line.
- Turn the left foot 45 degrees towards the upper left corner of your mat.
- From here, adjust the distance between your feet so that you feel stable.
- Bend your right knee to make your right thigh parallel to the ground, keeping the right shin perpendicular and right knee stacked over the right ankle.
- Focus on turning from your belly to bring your torso to face the shorter edge of your mat (squaring your hips)
- From here extend your arms up, lift your shoulder blades and rib cage along with your arms and reach up through your fingers.
- Breathe mindfully and hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Advanced Version: Do a backbend once you're in the pose. Avoid collapsing in the lower back, instead bend by opening up your chest.
Warrior I Pose.
5. Fish Pose i.e. Matsyasana
Opens up the chest, back and shoulders, increases focus and awareness.
Getting into the Fish Pose:
- Lie on your back, keep your feet together and hands relaxed alongside the body.
- Place the hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other.
- Breathing in, lift the head and chest up.
- Lower the head backward and touch the top of the head to the floor.
- Place weight on the elbows (and not on the head) by pressing them into the ground.
- Lift your chest up and press your legs to the floor.
- Focus on your breath, and feel the opening up of your chest and back. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Beginner Version: Place a yoga block or a yoga wheel between your upper back and neck doe support.
The Asanas mentioned above are beginner variations. Once you feel comfortable and confident in these, you could progress to the complete variations of these Asanas
While practicing Yoga always remember to be kind to your body, listen to it and respect its limitations.
About the Author: This article is written by Harneet Jayakar a crossfit enthusiast and a certified Yoga teacher based out of Mumbai. Harneet was introduced to Crossfit fairly recently, and has incorporated her knowledge of Yoga to add to her crossfit workouts. Find Harneet's favourite Yoga Mats here. You can follow her journey on Instagram @harneetjayakar