Yoga is often thought of as a slow-paced activity reserved for those who want to meditate and tune out. But while there’s some truth to this first impression, you’d be surprised that CrossFitters can benefit from yoga too, especially when it comes to recovery.

Research from the University of Edinburgh shows how yoga can heal body aches and keep certain physical and mental illnesses at bay. But what exactly makes yoga such a fantastic complement to your CrossFit routine?

Improves Blood Circulation

CrossFit is a high-intensity workout characterized by short bursts of exercises under maximum stress. Because CrossFit inherently requires more energy, it’s easily the best way to lose fat and strengthen bones, however, it does come with a couple of risks. A fitness study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that those who regularly perform high-intensity workouts are more likely to develop plaque build-up in their arteries, which can easily escalate to serious heart problems. Yoga helps because its flow-like movement promotes blood circulation, thus delivering fresh oxygen and preventing lactic acid build-up in your blood vessels.

Alleviates Muscle Soreness
Yoga combines deep, expansive breathing with slow, intentional stretching. In other words, it’s everything your muscles look for after a challenging workout. For example, the cobra pose is incredibly effective for treating sore abs, while low lunges can stretch out those painful quads. There are a plethora of yoga poses available that target different parts of the body. Choose moves that will help you focus on the muscles that are often strained.

Increases Mobility
Repetitive exercising, especially high-intensity exercise like CrossFit, reduces joint mobility and muscle elasticity overtime. While it’s good to challenge your muscles, it’s important not to overdo it. If not remedied, it may lead to decreased strength, slow performance, and increased risk of injury. The solution? Do a couple of yoga recovery poses right after a CrossFit session or between workouts. A great example of a restorative pose is the heart opener, which naturally expands your chest and rib cage.

Calms the Mind

Recovery is usually associated with resting the body, but the mind needs to relax too, especially after a dynamic exercise like CrossFit. After all, the best athletes know that sports and working out can be just as mentally tiring. Lifestyle writer Jane Adamson details how yoga is well-known to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. Yoga helps clear the mind and focuses the athlete’s energy on self-improvement, helping them mentally prepare themselves for another tough day at the gym.

Leads to a Good Night’s Sleep
The post-workout endorphin rush can make it hard to lay down and take a rest afterwards, but yoga is one of the best natural sleep remedies in America for a reason. In fact, a new sleep study by Harvard Medical School indicates that yoga is the recommended medication for people suffering from chronic insomnia. There are specific poses that are better for restorative sleep than others, such as the wide knee child’s pose—a beginner-level yoga technique that also provides temporary relief in your lower back and hips.

Like any other exercise, yoga is something you should ease into, especially if your body is unfamiliar with the poses. Start by practicing some of the basic moves for around 10-minutes post-exercise, and slowly work your way up from there. Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the recovery benefits of yoga in no time.


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