Yoga and CrossFit: 6 Poses to Improve Your WOD

I was introduced to CrossFit about four years ago, while sitting in the class “Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis and Treatment.” It wasn’t much of an introduction - our instructor was actually just making a passing reference - but since I’d not heard of it before I asked a friend for clarification.  “It’s the workout the guys from 300 did,” my friend said.  Well THAT explains it, I thought.  Then later, after I’d started my Master’s degree classes, I was further exposed to the concepts of CrossFit and Olympic lifting. I joined our local gym (or “box”) last July and began teaching yoga there in October. [wp_ad_camp_1]


In the past several years CrossFit has exploded in popularity, with boxes popping up everywhere and the increasingly popular CrossFit Games claiming to crown “the fittest in the world.”  For those of you non-CrossFitters, March is of particular importance to CrossFit because during this month yearly, standardized “open” Workout of the Days (or “WODs”) are introduced and used to help athletes qualify for regional matches.  Last week’s workout, or “14.1” involved 10 minutes of as many rounds as possible of the following movements:

30 “Double Unders” (a jump rope move during which you jump once and the rope makes two revolutions)

15 Snatches (Olympic weight lifting move)

 CrossFit doesn’t have a particular muscle “focus;” there are no “arms” or “legs” days and that’s kind of the point. Muscular “confusion” is at the core of the CrossFit philosophy. Quite frankly, that made implementing yoga at our local box pretty easy. But, of course, there are problem areas for CrossFit athletes just like any other type of athlete.  Below are some of the poses I have found to be most beneficial for members in our box.


Downward Facing Dog

downdog Yoga pose Yogatraveltree

A classic move, when done correctly this pose can target commonly tight areas such as the hamstrings, back and latissimus dorsi (“lats”).  To get the full benefit of this pose in your shoulders, make sure you are keeping your shoulders down and retracted.



Eagle pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose has several benefits for our athletes: it helps improve balance, the importance of which cannot be understand for some Olympic lifting moves (the snatch being one of them), and it also targets shoulder mobility.



pigeon pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

After a hard day deadlifting or squatting, nothing feels better than this pose for your hips and butt.



chair pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose challenges the legs in a different way than any weight lifting move. It is also a good way to open the chest and improve squatting form.



bridge pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose is present at the beginning and end of almost every yoga class we do at our box. It is a great way to warm up, work on core stability and engage the glutes. My favorite version of bridge is to add the single-leg component with a lift (both leg lifts and repetitive lifting of the hips are good challenges).



plow pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

In the words of Chris Traeger, this is literally the best thing I could think to do after pull-ups or back extensions.  It is an excellent way to both invert and improve low back flexibility.

And the list goes on.  Yoga doesn’t just offer the prospect of improving balance and flexibility for athletes, it also offers the opportunity to train proper breathing patterns, improve core stability and regain mental focus. In CrossFit, as in many other workout programs (I’m looking at you Insanity and P90X), it is easy to lose these fundamental principles in the rush of the workout.  So whether you’re a regular CrossFitter, a weekend lifter or just getting started on the weight machines, take time to come back to your yoga roots and your body will thank you for it.


Images via: @ndlanae, @Jbindrum, @annazoke, @hercreativespirit, @yogawithnikita, @primal_neenzzz