Surely, I’m not the first to draw a positive correlation between mixing CrossFit and the practice of yoga. In fact, it’s a trend among gyms and athletes alike, especially on the West Coast. In the minds of CrossFit athletes, mixing yoga into their routine is a perfect “ying” to their high-intensity “yang.”
For those athletes who are in CrossFit for the lifestyle of general health and fitness, I find it hard to disagree. Though I think the two practices are more complex than yoga simply being recovery and flexibility training, while CrossFit is often pegged as “strength training,” they do offer some complimentary benefits, in my opinion.
Like most things that come into contact with CrossFit, I find that it’s often too difficult to mesh with those who aren’t active participants in the community, at least when it comes to offering a yoga class at a CrossFit gym. Few yogi instructors that do not participate in strength and conditioning can really speak to being an avid CrossFitter’s complement, in my opinion. Sure, it’s possible, but it’s difficult especially if the yogi wants to insert into a gym’s schedule of classes.
In addition, those situations where the avid CrossFitter sees an opportunity and jumps into the role of yogi without authenticity, critical concessions are made to the experience. Conversely, when yoga instructors have experience with strength and conditioning and a genuine yoga practice, the sky is the limit.
San Francisco CrossFit’s Debbie Steingesser comes to mind as an authentic yogi who is just as authentic in strength and conditioning as she is in her yoga practice.
At SFCF, Debbie runs a “Yoga for the CrossFit Athlete” class at the gym every Sunday. It’s free for SFCF members but is open to the public as well. She calls her style Vinyasa with specific themes and focus on the students’ bodies. As an active student at SFCF, she even considers the programing and the general mobility concerns of her student population in planning her classes. In her own words, she describes the class vibe when she notes their focus on breath “in stillness and in movement as well as learning how to relax and recover strong. There’s a lot of good (non-yoga) music, inappropriate humor and laughter.”
From her vantage point, Debbie believes that “the relationship between Yoga and CrossFit is growing rapidly. Which makes perfect sense because the two go together like almond butter and raspberry jam.” She’s even recently launched YogiWOD.com, as an answer to the need for a thoughtful marriage between CrossFit and the practice of yoga. She says the response has been tremendous from yoga teachers around the world who are interested in teaching yoga in their CrossFit gym and are wondering how to begin.
When it comes to implementing a yoga practice into your gym routine, don’t just do it. Do it well. Debbie is leading the charge from San Francisco. Luckily, for us she’s letting us watch along and learn from her successes.