Swole & Flexy: The Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters

Feeling extra-sore after your WODs lately? Chances are, you could use some more mobility (okay, yoga) in your life. I totally get it: I didn’t believe in the benefits of yoga for CrossFitters until I added in a weekly practice. But since I started a restorative yoga routine, I’ve found that not only do I recover faster, but I also have less trouble getting into squats or performing lifts.

The Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters

It’s National Yoga Month, so let’s review some of the benefits of yoga for CrossFitters. As CrossFit athletes, we beat up our bodies. There’s no sugarcoating it: we do things that the outside world thinks is crazy. We take pride in heaving barbells over our heads, kipping like there’s no tomorrow, and hopping on and off boxes like little bunnies. This is all great for our strength and for our cardiovascular system, but it tightens up our muscles: shoulders, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings… you get the picture. If we come in with mobility issues (I have tight hips and lousy ankle mobility from running), CrossFit can make it even worse – unless we add in yoga to the routine.

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Yoga not only lets you work on those sore spots but also helps improve your mobility. If you’re having trouble getting below parallel, for example, working on hip mobility through yoga can make it easier. If your shoulders tend to stiffen up after a spicy WOD full of pull-ups or jerks, yoga helps loosen up your shoulders and keep them healthy (although the tattoo Rock Tape looks pretty dang cool, and I’ve had to wear it because I neglected my shoulders).

If your box doesn’t have a restorative yoga class, look for a Hatha yoga class at a local studio. If you can’t make it to a yoga class – or don’t want to shell out the extra bucks for a studio class, you can still do yoga at home on your rest day(s). (You do take one of those, right?) Here are a few poses to incorporate into your home yoga practice. Hold each pose for about five breaths. All you’ll need is a good yoga mat.

5 Yoga Poses for CrossFitters

  1. Downward Dog
  2. Single-Leg Pigeon
  3. Lizard
  4. Thread the Needle
  5. Reclined Spinal Twist
Look no further to find out the benefits of yoga for CrossFitters - and a few poses you can incorporate into your home practice.

Downward Dog

Stretches shoulders, calves

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters - downward dog

Downward dog is a staple in yoga classes, and for good reason. It not only stretches your shoulders (make sure you’re pushing your head through the window!), but it also stretches tight calves from running, jumping rope, and box jumps. Pedal your feet (“walk your dog”) for a more active calf stretch.

Single Leg Pigeon

Stretches hips, glutes, psoas, back

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters - pigeon

If you hold any tension in your lower body, single-leg pigeon is for you. Pigeon is a great hip opener, which will help you get below parallel in your squats.


Stretches hip flexors

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters - lizard

Box jumps, running, and squats are all going to tighten up your hip flexors. This stretch is great for loosening them, which translates to not hating your running WODs quite so much. (Full disclosure: I see running on the whiteboard and do a happy dance, but I also love Lizard Pose.

Thread the Needle

Stretches shoulders

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters - thread the needle

Anything that helps stretch your shoulders is going to feel amazing, particularly after a round of handstand push-ups. Sink deep toward your ankles like you’re in child’s pose, but “thread” one arm under your opposite arm.

Reclined Spinal Twist

Releases lower back

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters - spinal twist

I know I’m not the only one whose lower back feels tight after a WOD full of deadlifts, or even rowing. This twist just feels so good after a WOD, and I do it as part of my home yoga practice and after almost every WOD when I’m lying on the floor gasping for breath.

If you want to see the benefits of yoga for CrossFitters for yourself, try out these poses or take a restorative or Hatha yoga class. You’ll definitely see an improvement in your lifts, no matter which path you take.