Since CrossFit Winter Park introduced a Sunday yoga class to its members about six months ago, regular attendees have seen major changes both mentally and physically. Take a look at how yoga has benefitted Monica, a CrossFit Winter Park veteran of three years, and Chelsea, the weightlifter turned yoga instructor who teaches each Sunday class.
The Student’s Perspective: How Yoga Improved Monica’s CrossFit Game
I actually really liked disliked yoga before going regularly at CFWP. I had tried it about 3 times, and wasn’t into the whole yoga vibe. I decided to give it one more try when CFWP started hosting classes.
What was different about the yoga class at CFWP from your previous experiences?
Our instructor, Chelsea, is great about catering to the CrossFit athlete while still mixing in standard yoga practices. Every Sunday, she asks us what we’re looking for in our practice that day and accommodates accordingly, whether that be a flow or more of a slow stretch. The best thing about this yoga class is that all of the athletes have gone through the same workouts that week, so if your quads are sore, it’s likely that everyone’s quads are sore. You don’t find that a normal yoga studio.
Have you noticed any improvements with your CrossFit performance since starting?
I feel stronger overall since starting, but I’ve seen the biggest shift in my focus. When you’re holding a yoga position for two or three minutes, you have to focus — especially on your breath. That has transferred over to focusing through big lifts and paying attention to my breath when squatting and deadlifting. It makes such an impact when you’re doing difficult things – whether that be lifting a heavy weight or stretching a tight muscle.
Have you noticed any changes in regard to mobility?
The amount of time I spend on mobility and stretching has increased so much since starting a regular yoga practice because I’m more aware of what I’m feeling in my body. Within that hour, I feel completely ready for what the next week has in store for me. I’m reconnected, refocused and ready to take on Monday.
What’s your favorite aspect of the yoga classes?
I really like the flow. I think that helps builds strength with gymnastics movements in CrossFit as well. You’re still stretching and breathing, but also building strength, and then reward yourself with shavasana.
Favorite yoga pose?
The Teacher’s Perspective: Why Every CrossFitter Could Benefit From Yoga
I hated yoga initially. Growing up, I was a weightlifter and a collegiate softball player. After having a brain injury in college, I wasn’t able to maintain that level of activity, so someone told me I should look into yoga. In my softball days, yoga was my punishment for swearing on the field. I thought it was way too slow. I finally took a heated power yoga class and found that I could maintain muscle and actually developed flexibility that I never had before. I’ve been in yoga since — about four years now.
What makes yoga a great supplement to CrossFit?
The CrossFitters I teach are just like me back in the day. They push and push, but you have to balance pushing hard with something else. I love sharing yoga with people who don’t know how to relax because it can completely change you mentally. I think the mental benefits are the greatest side effects.
What benefits are you seeing from your CrossFit students?
There is a difference between when they walk in and when they leave. They’re calmer, their shoulders are not by their ears anymore, and you actually see the difference in the tension they carry. The greatest compliment I’ve received is from a student who told me they are responding to situations rather than reacting. It’s amazing how much your yoga practice can change the way you go about your everyday life.
Favorite yoga pose?
Tadasana, or mountain pose. It makes me feel incredibly strong and grateful.