Why practice yoga? When a CrossFitter, or anyone for that matter, practices and takes a yogic (with an open heart and mind) approach to it, they will experience the physical benefits of yoga, as well as the hidden mental and spiritual benefits both on and off the mat. Although physically demanding on its own, yoga is the yin to CrossFit's yang.
One characteristic of fitness is flexibility. When thought of in a CrossFit context, most people will naturally think of the physical aspect of being flexible. Most of us have tight joints, especially in the hips and shoulders. Some of us are really, really tight. Practicing static yoga postures and creating length and openness throughout our joints will increase flexibility which serves as a great preemptive step to injury prevention. There is also more to yoga than just this though. Other physical benefits of yoga include better balance (important for squatting), breath control (which is ALWAYS important during a WOD), alignment and coordination (imperative for the Olympic lifts), body awareness (handstand walks, anyone?) as well as the hidden mental and spiritual aspects of yoga that help you calm your mind and stay in the present moment. This will translate to faster WOD times, faster recovery, and most importantly, safer and full range of motion movements.
We all have varying degrees of mental (in)flexibility as well. The mental demands of a tough workout can surpass the physical. Oftentimes, our minds needs the break before our bodies. Over time, the practice of yoga helps you gain better control of your mind and its ability to stay present and focus at that exact moment when you are searching for a distraction. Your mind is spinning, you keep checking the clock, you keep tabs on your neighbor, all while fighting for breath. Distractions are just a detraction from intensity. With a clear mind and calm breath, your body is capable of flowing more smoothly during the most challenging of workouts.
Due to the different demands of CrossFit and yoga, the coupling can create a more balanced athlete and person. You'll grow stronger both physically and mentally through the practice. CrossFitting yogis are able to be competitive yet peaceful, aggressive yet calm, and mindful not only of the strength of their technique, but also the balance and movement of their body. This all leaves you better equipped to find your edge—where the end of comfort meets the beginning of discipline. One does not need to have a flexible body to practice yoga. Just bring your flexible mind. We will work on both together. See you on the mat.