*Note: This article is the opinion of one writer at Break Parallel and is not associated in any way with ROMWOD.
Over the years many people have taken a stab at making yoga attractive to CrossFitters. ROMWOD has made it sexy again, even if they don’t claim to be doing just “yoga.” I was pretty ecstatic when I first saw their program because I’ve always been a huge advocate for including this type of practice in your training.
Before I ever started coaching CrossFit, I taught yoga for athletes, which evolved into a mobility/yoga class. My three biggest takeaways were:
1. CrossFitters can’t seem to wind down and sit still.
2. Restorative yoga is what we’re after—not power.
3. Make them breathe!
Here’s the thing… We know how great yoga can be for us. If you constantly find yourself getting joint paint or muscle strains, it could be your savior. Aside from training, you work pretty damn hard. You wake up early, go to work, take care of the kids, manage your relationships, and constantly put out fires all day long. Stress is inevitable. Believe it or not, this stress carries over into how fast you recover from your training, and quite honestly, the overall quality of what you do on a daily basis. Wonky hips, tight traps, and little imbalances are all accumulated over time.
We need something to not only offset this “tightness,” but to kick your busy mind down a few notches.
You’re constantly going to be pulled in and out of balance, meaning you can’t just “stretch.” You can’t just smash your quads with lacrosse balls. And you can’t solely focus on stability work. At different points of your journey, you’ll need to bias certain things. You’ll have to take an imbalanced approach to get back in balance.
The ROMWOD FAQ page says, “ROMWOD is not just a “yoga” class. One of the most important differences between ROMWOD and “yoga” is our focus on maintaining strength while increasing range of motion. As an athlete using ROMWOD you will not sacrifice power for flexibility. ROMWOD does not train you to be more flexible. It trains your joints to open and it strengthens your joints at the same time.
In addition, ROMWOD places a tremendous emphasis on developing what we call the Warrior Mentality. Our routines train your mind to focus, to remain calm when everything in your body is telling you to panic, and to keep your body running efficiently while enduring stress. A big part of this training involves breathing techniques and breath control exercises that are directly applicable in the gym.”
ROMWOD will tell you to stay in a pose for three minutes at a time without moving…and you’ll do it. You might moan and groan at first, but you’ll get it done. It’s forcing you to breathe through the uncomfortable moments. And maybe not your first time or your 30th time, but at the some point you’ll find yourself just sinking into your poses.
It’s become an easy way to get in your daily dose of recovery. I’ve also noticed that it’s motivated some athletes to actually go take a yoga class! Who would have thought?
Psychology Today wrote a great article that summed up some great research studies on the effects of yoga:
“A March 3 study from The University of Texas found that yoga helped women undergoing radiation therapy reduce fatigue, improve mental outlook, and regulate the stress hormone cortisol.
Another study published in January 2014 from Ohio State University found that yoga helped women who had just completed cancer treatment reduce inflammation, increase energy, and improve mood. The researchers believe the health benefits of yoga are applicable to the broad population.” – Christopher Bergland
What are the main reasons you haven’t tried yoga despite all the benefits?
– “I don’t have time.”
– “I’m going to look like a bull in a china shop if I go to an actual yoga class.”
– “I don’t have Lululemon pants or shorts like everyone else.”
– “I don’t know the names of any of the poses.”
– “I can’t seem to sit still for minutes at a time.”
– “I have self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder.”
– “There’s so many different types of yoga, I have no idea where to start.”
Let’s break these down…
“I don’t have time.”
Time is all relative. If you experience constant pain from your hips, you’ll do anything to get rid of it. When this happens you’ll make the time. Even if that means cutting down your actual training time to focus more on recovery. Which is equally as important, right? Take care of your recovery before it blows up in your face.
Unfortunately I thought I was Superman for the longest time because I was young and active. Then I herniated a disk in my lower back that put me out of commission for 12 months. This cost me so much time that I wish I had taken even 10 minutes to focus on recovery.
“I’m going to look like a bull in a china shop if I go to an actual yoga class.”
No one looks like a graceful ballerina the first time they step into a yoga class. You can expect to feel somewhat lost the first 2-3 classes. You’re going to fall out of poses and lose balance at times. You’re going to look around at what other people are doing to make sure you’re doing it right. You’re constantly going to be thinking “Am I doing this right?!” Trust me, no one is staring at you thinking, “Wow, what a newbie…” People are more welcoming than you think. Remember the first time you went to a CrossFit class?
Every time I go to other studios, I get a little anxious just like anyone else. But I have to remind myself that I’m there to relax and unwind. Not to stress out about how foolish I look.
“I don’t have Lululemon pants or shorts like everyone else.”
Mats, equipment, clothing, are all distractions and excuses. It’s pretty awesome that we’ve got high-tech mats that get grippier as we sweat more. And yoga pants that make your booty look phenomenal. These are all luxuries, not prerequisites to get started.
Think about it like your pair of Nanos or Metcons. You don’t need to have those shoes to do CrossFit workouts. But once you’re fully immersed and you do it often enough, they’ll become a “must have” for you. So don’t stress out about this. Yoga studios are very welcoming to newcomers and typically have mats for you if you don’t’ have your own.
“I don’t know the names of any of the poses.”
Remember your first month at CrossFit? TTB, C2B, WB, AMRAP, EMOM…what the hell does all of that mean? It’s not important to know everything all at once. Same thing with yoga. Certain poses that just click with your body will become stuck in your vocabulary over time. Especially “Savasana” or “Corpse” pose, where you might find yourself dozing off from time to time.
“I can’t seem to sit still for minutes at a time.”
Please don’t just dismiss it as “Attention Deficit Disorder.” Think about it. If you’re constantly thinking about the next pose, the meal prep you have to do, or your agenda for the rest of class, you’re defeating the purpose. You’re going through a hell of a ride, but not enjoying it. You want to use yoga as a means to turn down all the extra noise. Not eliminate it completely.
Think about it like this. You’re lying on the beach staring into the sky. Every minute or so you see a plane going by with a banner that says:
– “Get Your Hoagies Delivered!”
– “Get life insurance before you die!”
– “Rent Jet Skis for 50% off”
You’re able to watch everything go by without letting it mess with your peace of mind. Instead of reacting to everything, you’re just letting it go.
If you can’t sit still with just you and your thoughts for 20 minutes to an hour a day…don’t you think there’s a chink in the armor there?
“There’s so many different types, I have no idea where to start.”
There are so many different types of yoga, and none are better than the other. It all comes back to your purpose. I personally am not a fan of Power Yoga because it’s too intense for me. I go to yoga to relax and unwind, not to get a workout. That’s what Weightlifting and CrossFit are for. But some people enjoy using this as a form of exercise multiple times a week and that’s totally cool. My favorite is Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, and Yin or Restorative Yoga. Look for descriptions that highlight a slower pace. More emphasis on breathing. And getting deep into your poses.
When you wake up after a nice nap on the beach, you feel like someone just hit the “reset” button in your brain. Nothing really gets to you. It’s like you’re finally immersed in the moment for the first time again. Imagine taking that focus to your training. The “zone” becomes much easier to find. Time slows down. And you are in complete control.
Go to your local studio and try out a class. Give it three tries before you dismiss it as something that’s not for you. If you’re still on edge, give ROMWOD’s free trial a shot and see what you think. You might bring out the Warrior within you.
If you enjoyed this post, head over to AirborneMind.com to get your free copy of The Ultimate Guide To Mastering The Snatch.
Misbah Haque is a USAW-SPC and CF-L1 Trainer and weakness manager for newcomers and CrossFitters looking to get stronger. His coaching practice is centered around filling the holes in movement so you can keep doing what you love for a long time. His blog is AirborneMind.com.
Follow Misbah: @AirborneMind
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