We’ve seen how Yoga and CrossFit can work together, but as more and more CrossFit affiliates open and new teachers get hired how do we build a successful yoga program? A growing trend at CrossFit Affiliates is adding yoga to compliment intense training, but how do we educate and find teachers that fit this mold? As resources start to grow for yoga for the CrossFit community, resources for teachers instructing this community need to grow alongside it.
Here are my five tips for yoga teachers looking to start a yoga program at their local affiliate and CrossFit affiliate owners looking to find the perfect yoga teacher for their box:
1. Start with the Basics All yoga teachers at an affiliate should understand the nine foundational movements in CrossFit. You do not need to drop $1K on the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certification to learn the basics. The CrossFit community is the best in the business at providing free resources to anyone and everyone who would like them. Check out CrossFit.com and the CrossFit Journal for resources on training and programming.
2. Understand Programming CrossFit is successful because of variance, but be prepared to walk in with a class plan and change it at any moment. Instructors should look at the Work Out of the Day (WOD) schedule daily in order to understand movements. Understanding the WOD will help you program your yoga class as an athletic or an active recovery day. Tip: Use mobility sites like Kelly Starrett’s mobilityWOD.com or use a yin yoga sequence to find a restorative balance to training. You aren’t going to have your athletes participate in 108 sun salutation mala the same day they do 100 burpees for time, so come prepared.
3. Start Small and Expect Excuses Add one weekly class to your schedule and expect it to be small. Yoga classes take time to grow, but have patience as it takes time to build a successful program. Athletes are full of excuses for not coming to class. I’ve heard it all from “I’m too inflexible to come to yoga” to “yoga is too slow.” Fact: yoga will not be for everyone. However; if you didn’t think you were strong enough for CrossFit would you just stop lifting weights? Flexibility and yoga is called a practice for a reason.
4. Yoga teachers need to do CrossFit Buy a membership or bargain for classes from the affiliate owner in exchange for teaching. CrossFit programming is based on three key elements: Metcons, Weightlifting, and Gymnastics. Learn the basics by not reading up on them and by doing foundations at an affiliate. Understanding how your body feels when it’s pushed to the limit in a WOD will help you become a better instructor. You would never teach a Yoga class if you didn’t feel comfortable in your own body, so why would you teach to a group of CrossFitters if you didn’t understand the stresses and demands they place on their bodies?
5. Prepare Athletes Mentally Physical strength is important, but mental strength is part of the toolkit for long-term success. In yoga, Dharana or “Concentration in the Eight Fold Path” can provide athletes with a deeper awareness. Introduce a five to ten minute meditation practice on a recovery day or pair it with a nutrition challenge when setting new goals or benchmarks. Yogis are used to doing things that make them uncomfortable (inversions and arm balances anyone?). CrossFit can be a scary arena to step into, but one that’s well worth the journey. As yoga training programs continue to graduate new teachers that will join the world of CrossFit it is important for experienced teachers to provide resources to this unique community. Start small, learn functional movement, and enjoy the growing strength of the affiliate community.
For most of us, the first thing that we want to do after a Metcon or marathon of burpees is to lay on the ground, gasping for air and making pretty sweat angels. Although laying on the ground is a common post-WOD phenomenon, there is a better way to find recovery – legs up the wall, or as it’s known in yoga, Viparaita Karani.Legs up the wall can be done right after a WOD or if you are short on time at home. The pose is restorative and great for recovery 24 hours after a WOD on rest days. The torso is placed on the floor and legs are Viparita, reversed or inverted, which creates blood flow to relieve ailments such as high or low blood pressure, arthritis, or lymph collection in the feet from lots of activities that use leg strength such as running and weightlifting.
Begin Find a wall and take a seat next to it sideways. Your shoulder and leg will be touching the wall on one side. Start to come onto the wall by swinging the legs up and laying your torso (back) on the ground. You may need to slide your buttocks closer to the wall to allow your sitting bones to be supported by the wall. Release your belly down by dropping the tailbone, allowing the pelvis to come to a neutral position. Place your arms to the side, allowing the shoulders to draw away from the spine, and rest your hands at your sides.
Take it deeper with these variations for more recovery in the lower back, shoulders, head and neck
If you suffer from low back pain or just grueling soreness from WODs, consider placing an ab mat, or if you are at home, pillow or blanket, underneath the lower back. This will elevate the hips, but will allow for less pressure to be placed on the back allowing for additional relief.
If shoulders feel tight, put your hands behind your head into a shoulder opener. Grab your elbows with the opposite hands allowing the arms to rest behind you on the ground.
To relieve any additional pressure or fatigue in the head and neck, you can place a rolled up sweatshirt or towel underneath the back of the neck.
Stay here anywhere from 5-20 minutes to allow the body to feel the benefits of the pose. Focus on breathing and allow the mind to be calm.
Benefits As athletes, the pose is perfect for recovery following a couple of back to back challenging WODs, Hero WOD, or any endurance activity. In CrossFit, our legs provide us with strength and stamina to support us through a variety of movements and exercises. Allowing our legs to find the rest they need is important to building long term strength and muscle adaptation. Many athletes complain of feeling like their legs are heavy or their lower backs are hurting, and this pose will help alleviate common soreness experienced by the intensity of WODs.
Common benefits of the pose include:
Helps regulate blood pressure
Relieves tired legs, lymph collection in the feet
Provides an excellent stretch for the hamstrings, the front torso, and back of the neck
Improves digestion and aides with mild depression, anxiety, arthritis, headaches, and insomnia
Allows the mind to find a calm, meditative state
Although this pose may seem accessible for anyone, it is not recommended for athletes who suffer from serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. If you suffer from serious neck or back problems this pose should be done under the supervision of a teacher.
Variations The pose can be done with the legs extended straight against the wall. Athletes can also take their legs out to a wide “V” shape, which will provide benefits for stretching the inner thighs and groin. If you want to find a hip-opener, draw the bottom of your feet together in a butterfly shape with the knees pointing out. As the feet come closer to the groin use your hands to gently push the thighs down to take the stretch deeper.