Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yoga and CrossFit



The past two weeks, I've been incorporating yoga into my regular CrossFit routine...I would highly recommend it!!! My friend, Becky, owns a studio (The Mat) in Richardson, TX which happens to be right around the corner from CrossFit Richardson, so it has worked perfectly for me to CrossFit and then head over to sort of unwind with yoga. Although yoga is also physically challenging, the mental aspect provides the opportunity to release the competitive energy built up during my CrossFit workouts. Yoga is the perfect followup to an intense CrossFit WOD. Check it out!

Here are a few of the benefits of yoga (from WebMD):

Yoga Benefits: Breathing

The benefits of breathe awareness will help in all areas of your life. Whether you are attempting a new deadlift PR or trying to fall asleep at night, your breathing will contribute positively.

"Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves. This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance. Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response -- the opposite of the fight-or-flight adrenaline boost of the stress response".

Yoga benefits: Less stress, more calm

"Some yoga styles use specific meditation techniques to quiet the constant "mind chatter" that often underlies stress. Other yoga styles depend on deep breathing techniques to focus your mind on the breath. When this happens, your mind becomes calm.
Among yoga's anti-stress benefits are a host of biochemical responses. For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters -- dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine -- creates a feeling of calm. Some research points to a boost in the hormone oxytocin".

Yoga benefits: Concentration and mood

"Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a benefit that may result from yoga's boosting oxygen levels to the brain. Yoga is even being studied as an adjunct therapy to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder".

Yoga benefits: Flexibility

One of the main reasons that I began practicing yoga was my desire to become more flexible. I've already begun to see improvements in this area, but have also experienced increased recovery post WOD. Here's a little more about what WebMD writes about workout recovery and lactic acid buildup:

"The series of yoga poses called asanas work by safely stretching your muscles. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body".

"Yoga stretches not only your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time. In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga. The greatest gains were in shoulder and trunk flexibility".

Yoga benefits: Strength

We CrossFit to increase strength, endurance, and overall well-being, yoga offers much of the same:

"Many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog, and Plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include Upward Dog and Chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles".

Yoga benefits: Posture

I have seen the biggest change with regard to posture and body awareness. Whether I'm sitting at my computer or sitting down to eat dinner, I am more aware of my posture. I have had ongoing neck problems and have found that this awareness, along with my increased strength and flexibility, are helping to alleviate this condition.

"With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That's because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand "tall." Another benefit of yoga is the increased body awareness. This heightened awareness tells you more quickly when you're slouching or slumping so you can adjust your posture".

Do you yoga?

2 comments:

Becky said...

I love this, of course! :) Now that I have you coming to yoga, I just need to figure out how to get you to cook for me. :) Ha ha ha ha ha!

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