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Old 08-31-2004, 06:58 PM   #1
Paul Scott Suliin
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I've been reading the material on the site and elsewhere, and I'm wondering if Yoga would be a good supplement to Crossfit. On the one hand, it seems counterintuitive, since if you were making a list of hard-core fitness disciplines yoga probably wouldn't make the top five. It's too closely associated with bean sprouts and tofu.

However Crossfit seems to define gymnastics as any discipline the goal of which is control over the body. Yoga certain seems to meet that definition. And some of the basic CF exercises, such as handstands and handstand presses, are straight out of yoga.

So am I full of condensed canal water here, or should I expect that yoga might be a good supplementary discipline to Crossfit training?

--Paul
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:26 PM   #2
Michael Pearce
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Yoga is very good to work on flexablity. I have done Hatha yoga in the past to keep the flexablity in my martial arts but, what I have done is in no way a workout to get in good strong condition. CF is the workout I do to get into and stay in good strong condition. I think it would be a good cool down or maybe a good thing to do on the off days to relax your body.
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:30 PM   #3
Paul Scott Suliin
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Hi, Michael. Are you familiar with Ashtanga yoga, by any chance?

I agree that Hatha yoga isn't at anywhere near the intensity level of a CF workout. If it's done right it's not supposed to be. I was thinking of it more as a sport for the top of the CF pyramid. And Ashtanga might be better for that.
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Old 09-01-2004, 04:48 AM   #4
Larry Lindenman
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Yoga is to gymnastics what crawling is to sprinting. Your time is better spent going to the Drills and Skills website and training gymnastics skills, unless your doing yoga for spiritual or religous reasons.
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Old 09-01-2004, 05:11 AM   #5
Graham Hayes
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"Yoga is to gymnastics what crawling is to sprinting. "

Fantastic!
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Old 09-01-2004, 05:35 AM   #6
Barry Cooper
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Paul,

I think if CrossFit does have a weakness, it is flexibility training. You definitely build flexibility with Overhead squats, rock bottom back squats, deep ring dips, squat cleans, and other movements, but Yoga is also demonstrably good at that as well.

My new mantra (pun intended) is CrossFit WOD+x. X could be your sport, it could be Yoga, it could be meditation, it could be extended drilling on CrossFit core elements.

I think Larry's comment was with respect to athleticism. There is no doubt that Gymnast are much more athletic than yoga practitioners, in my mind. This does not mean that Yoga is not a good way to build focus and flexibility, and emotional endurance.
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Old 09-01-2004, 08:37 AM   #7
Keith Wittenstein
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I personally consider yoga foundational. Having been around for thousands of years, yoga has a pretty exhaustive lexicon of poses and sequences to stimulate every part of the body. Being a yoga instructor I find the crawling/sprinting analogy somewhat offensive (but somewhat true). I personally view gymnastics as competitive yoga. Minus the aparatae, most of the movements can be traced back to yoga. It's just in gymastics you have to be able to do them faster, while jumping or hanging, or on a 4" wide beam. Yoga is a healing/spiritual practice not meant for competition, but it gives your body the foundation needed to attack more complex athletic activities. You can't sprint your whole way through life...and you certainly did not come out of the womb sprinting. Sometimes crawling is appropriate and necessary.

Yoga breathing exercises are used by many competitive athletes and is now considered some "new science" of breathing but has been around for thousands of years. Pavel didn't invent everything, people!

If you are already strong and flexible and have good body awareness, you can skip yoga and go right to gymnastics. If you don't have good body awareness, strength in bodyweight exercises or flexibility, then I think yoga is THE BEST place to start. A good vinyasa or ashtanga class will make you sweat and force you to control your own body through many poses that will improve your strength, flexibility, balance, breathing and overall body awareness. Seriously, don't dismiss it until you've tried a 90 min ashtanga class with all the jump forwards and jump backs. In a typical ashtanga class you have to go from hands and feet in upsidedown V position (downward dog) to jumping your legs through your hands to a seat on the floor and then lifting up (L sit) and drawing your legs back between your hands (tuck planche or pike handstand) kicking your feet back to the bottom of a pushup dozens of times.

Another example is the sun salutation which is in essence a slow and controlled squat thrust. I don't have any proof, but I suspect someone saw some old yoga pictures and started trying to do sun salutations and bastardized them into squat thrusts. Point is, if you want to polish or work up to squat thrusts, do 10-20 sun salutations a day and you'll develop the moves and control you need, then you can turn up the speed and the numbers. "Hindu squats" and "Hindu pushups" are more bastardizations of yoga. Instead of doing it nice and controlled with your breath you just do them full speed and you have Hindu-ized it. (note: yogis don't lift their heels like matt furey).

Core strength is integral to yoga. In yoga they call it bandhas. You contract your pelvic floor and draw your belly in for the whole 90 min. practice. You constantly use the core and use the belly to help you get stronger and more flexible. I'm just saying, the idea is thousands of years old, again, Pavel did not invent it.

I've even been in yoga classes where we did PISTOLS. So to think that these exercises are new inventions or to think that you won't get a really challenging workout in yoga is a misconception that I am hoping to debunk.

I have been practicing olympic lifts since getting into crossfit and I find the bodyawareness I have from yoga helps tremendously when I have to straighten my back, drive through my heels and keep my shoulders back and over my heels. This type of alignment is probably not what you want to worry about with 100kg on the bar. Learning how to make minor alignment adjustments in the body is emphasized a great deal in the physical yoga practice.

Yoga is for everyone whether or not they want to do it. It probably won't help your muscle ups but it will probably help you live longer and happier. Part of the crossfit mantra is "Regularly learn and play new sports." Yoga definitely is NOT a sport, but I think it can be approached with the same fun spirit and openmindedness that Crossfit fosters.
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Old 09-01-2004, 09:33 AM   #8
Paul Scott Suliin
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Thanks, Keith. I had a feeling that Larry was stating a truth a bit too baldly and harshly. A wrench is a poor hammer, but that's no excuse for leaving it out of the toolbox. After all, a hammer is even worse as a wrench.
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:03 AM   #9
Larry Lindenman
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Keith, I did not intend to offend anyone with my comments. My observation is that gymnastics has huge carry over to all sports while IMO Yoga does not. Just a comparison of the physiques of gymnasts and yogis reveal astounding diffrences. IMHO most if not all junior level gymnasts could get into and hold yoga poses in a matter of weeks, if not immediately. I don't believe the flip side is true, very few yogi's are going to be swinging giants or hitting iron crosses without years of gymnastics training (and a little animal protein). I'm not discounting other training benifits of yoga ie. poses that stimulate the liver, heart, etc. but really don't know if I believe those claims. I do believe in meditation and know there are spiritual aspects to yoga that are not integral to pure sport. As to yoga being foundational. . .I think it's kind of a reach, a healthy past time, yes. All this being said, you are correct, if you wish to pursue yoga, go for it! Look at Crossfit as filling a void yoga may not.
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:23 AM   #10
Christopher Sommer
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There are numerous instances of advanced yoga practitioners requiring treatment for injured backs due to a high level of flexibility without a high increase in strength throughout the range of motion to go with it. In other words, to develop a high degree of flexibility without accompanying strength throughout that ROM is to develop non-usable flexibility which will ultimately short circuit athletic performance. Essentially then this is an issue of the benefits of passive versus active flexibility.

An example of the difference would be a gymnastics bridge where the passive flexibility is extreme but no strength is demonstrated; a good party trick to be sure but, without an accompanying measure of strength, the extreme flexibility has actually weakened the ability of the structure to perform athletically (i.e. inability to generate torque or to provide stabilization).

A counter example would be a "bridge pull" where a high degree of flexibility is exhibited in the bridge, but then the athlete slowly pulls their feet off the ground up to a handstand using only their back muscles (no jumping, kicking or bending of the arms allowed).

For an additional discussion on active vs. passive flexibility and how I apply them to my program, you may wish to see the following article:
http://www.crossfit.com/cfcoaches/sommer/article016.htm


Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer
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