Yoga. What we have learnt, and why we love it.
In this post, we discuss how crossfit and sport performance increase from taking part in Yoga.
We started Yoga to aid our training - as many of you may know Cross-Fit includes a fair amount of Olympic Weightlifting. Weightlifting is extremely technical and requires a lot of flexibility. We originally started Yoga to help increase flexibility and range of movement for our Olympic Weightlifting. After a month of Yoga, it’s obvious that there are so many benefits which are not limited to just physical benefits and we would recommend you all try it!
So let’s talk about what we have learnt from our time at Yoga so far.
First and foremost, we have learnt to be present.
That doesn’t mean turning up on time (Something we very rarely manage to actually achieve.. ) it really means committing one hundred percent to be present in the moment and focusing completely on at the task at hand. This is something that we had assumed we were pretty good at, how wrong we were! The next time you have 2 minutes give it a go. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds and breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Concentrate on nothing more than your breathing, feeling your chest rise and fall. Do you find that your mind wanders? Keep bringing it back to your breathing, focus on telling yourself “I am breathing in” on each inhale through your nose and “I am breathing out” on every exhale through your mouth. This is being present in its simplest form, not as easy as it sounds right? However, this is a very useful tool for anyone that experiences anxiety or panic. Practising this can help you by regaining your focus and being present in the moment.
Yoga is just stretching, right? Wrong!
We have found it to be both physically and mentally demanding, it is also great for building bodyweight and core strength. Holding positions like Plank or Side Plank for a period of time is a physical challenge, alongside the mental challenge of telling yourself to “hang in there” whilst holding the pose. These simple tasks help to build mental resilience alongside physical strength, which complement each other greatly. Flexibility is another welcome side effect of consistent yoga. Have you watched a baby pick up an object from the floor? A baby will squat down, weight into the heels, keeping the back upright and straight. Allowing the baby to pick up any object without straining the back or neck, this is how we are naturally programmed and should pick up heavy objects from the ground. Now compare that to how you would typically pick an object up from the floor. You will probably arch your back, bend at the hips and not bend the knees as much as you should, causing huge amounts of strain on your back and neck. When was the last time you tried to squat? We can’t, this is one of the main focuses in our yoga sessions, to work on regaining this most basic ability to sit in a full-depth squat. Can you sit into a full depth squat without your heels popping or your chest falling forward? The truth is sacrificing good form in any type of movement increases the risk of injury. It’s therefore unsurprising that so many people suffer from a “bad back” or “bad neck”. Yoga allows people to perform and perfect basic movements using only body weight. Moving well should always be the priority over moving heavy weight, good technique is much more rewarding than heavy lifting It is the basis for a long and healthy life. The next time you need to pick something up from the floor, take 2 minutes, think of the baby, think of your back.
Learning to surrender yourself.
This was by far the biggest challenge we came across whilst practising Yoga. Everyone fears the unknown, we’re hardwired that way. Walking into a Yoga session not knowing what to expect, how we will perform or what is going to happen was definitely out of our comfort zone. Another one that sounds super easy but when it came to actually do it, was much harder than we first realised. Give it a go... Lie on the floor and relax fully. Now, with your eyes closed, consciously think about relaxing your body from the head down. Relax your forehead, let your eyes roll back, un-stick your tongue from the roof of your mouth and relax your jaw. Feel your neck, shoulders, back and arms relax. Carry on working your way down each muscle in your body to your toes. The most amazing thing we found about this is by the time you have worked your way to your feet, you can start from your head again meaning you never fully relaxed those muscles in the first place!
Yoga is definitely something that we will keep as part of our regular training routine.
We feel anyone that gives Yoga a go and surrenders themselves to it fully to give it the chance it needs will do the same. The rewards are beyond physical and we fully support anything that helps improve anyone’s mental health especially when it also improves their physical health.
We want to take this opportunity to mention that we have been practising Yoga at Fusion Yoga in Ripley, Derbyshire and thank Lisa for working so closely with us. Lisa’s vast knowledge of Yoga and dedication to ensuring her clients reach their goals makes Fusion a truly wonderful place to practice. When opening our eyes at the end of each session we always find that the colours of the world seem a little brighter and more vibrant and that we always leave more grateful than we arrived.