Over the years, I’ve learned one thing that both yoga and CrossFit have in common – they’re both fairly misunderstood by the general public. There are many benefits of yoga as part of your fitness routine, especially if you are training in CrossFit or functional fitness alongside it.
Yoga and CrossFit: Those who do them love them, and those who don’t do one or the other don’t know much of anything about it other than what they see in the media, which is typically inaccurate.
There’s stereotypes for everything, and yoga is no exception.
Like CrossFit, yoga takes a bit of time to adjust to as part of your regular routine. Also similar to CrossFit, it also offers amazing health benefits, both physical and mental.
Not sure if yoga is right for you? Whether you’re pairing it with another fitness routine or doing it as a stand alone, you can still reap the benefits of this amazing exercise program.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Reduce Chronic Pain
The relaxation techniques involved in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s no secret that there’s lots of stretching involved in yoga. Those stretches result in an increased range of motion for your joints, as well as increased flexibility for your muscles.
Increase Muscle Tone
Speaking of muscles – yoga also helps you gain muscle tone! When practiced regularly, yoga helps to not only lengthen but also strengthen and tone your muscles.
Improve Respiration and Energy
That’s right – yoga can help you breathe better. Yoga poses and routines aren’t just for stretching – they encourage you to slow your breath down, breathe deeper, and be more aware of the breaths you are taking.
Those positive effects can spill over into your every day life, improving your respiration and energy long after you’ve finished yoga and have moved on to your daily tasks.
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Yoga makes your heart stronger! By working the slow, steady breathing routines mentioned above, you’re increasing the level of oxygen to your heart.
Improve Athletic Performance
Sure, CrossFit is great for improving athletic performance. But you can’t go hard every day, not give your body the rest and relaxation it needs, and expect it to continue to perform well for you.
By stretching and lengthening your muscles with yoga, you’ll see increased performance in your everyday workouts – whether that’s CrossFit, one-on-one personal training, or something else entirely.
Provide Protection From Injury
Yes, CrossFit is scalable. Yes, CrossFit is appropriate for everyone. But CrossFit also draws in people with similar mindsets, and it’s not typically one of people who like to take it easy.
By practicing yoga, you will work to strengthen and stabilize the smaller muscles around your joints. Keeping those smaller muscles strong will help protect those joints from injury in the long run.
Help You Sleep Better
Research indicates that lack of sleep can have negative effects on cognition and the brain. A regular yoga practice has been proven to reduce insomnia and help you sleep better at night.
Mental Benefits of Yoga
Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress and anxiety, both of which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind.
“Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
Improve Mental Well-Being & Brain Function
Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve both mental well-being and brain function. It relaxes your mind, centers your attention, and sharpens your concentration.
According to this article, just 20 minutes of yoga can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory.
Yoga For Everyone
Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing yoga for years, or you’ve never tried it before in your life. All you need is a desire to be better than you were yesterday.
You don’t need to be a certain size, shape, or fitness level for yoga – just like CrossFit, yoga can be modified to meet you where you are. With the use of different props, you can adjust the movements and poses to what’s appropriate for you for that day.
The purpose is not to strive to be a pretzel, but to get in tune with your body. In a world that’s always rushing from one thing to the next, taking a few minutes to slow down, calm your mind, and ease into some relaxation is never a bad thing.