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Yoga and CrossFit: The Yin and Yang of Fitness

From outward appearances, yoga and CrossFit couldn’t be more different.

Peek into a yoga studio and you see women (and sensitive new age males) moving slowly into stretchy positions for an hour or more, using nothing but their own body weight, a sticky mat, and the occasional block or band.

Gaze (if you dare) through the warehouse door of a CrossFit box, and you see men (and warrior princess females) blasting through eight to fifteen-minute gauntlets of explosive speed and power with heavily loaded barbells, kettle-bells, jump ropes and pull-up rigs. But scratch the surface and these training disciplines are flip sides of the same coin:

CrossFitters and yogis both seek and embrace discomfort. The torture can be fast, or it can be excruciatingly slow. But both disciplines push people’s pain thresholds and force them to focus on just…getting…through…this.

Breath awareness and breath control are cornerstones of yoga and CrossFit. Yoga movements are synchronized to inhales and exhales. Olympic and powerlifting people who don’t pay attention to their breathing rate and oxygen debt during heavily weighted cardio workouts get gassed. The results are not pretty.

In both cases, it’s a lifestyle, complete with the arcane lingo, crazy-expensive clothes and gear, nutritional preferences and taboos (“Nothing with a face!” “Nothing a cave-man wouldn’t eat!”). Yoga people hang out together, recruit acquaintances, go to workshops, and toy with the idea of becoming an instructor. Ditto CrossFit.

Yoga and CrossFit enthusiasts both tend to assume an air of superiority about their physical capabilities, nutritional choices, and crazy-expensive clothes and gear. Friends know not to get them started on the subject.

Dedicated practitioners build impressive core strength and acquire skills. They develop capabilities (cantilevered poses, unassisted pull-ups, upside-down circus tricks) that they didn’t have before.

Both conclude with participants on the floor, flat on their backs in Savasana. Or its CrossFit equivalent, I-think-I’m-going-to-die-asana.

When CrossFit dudes ask where to meet women, I tell them to try a yoga class. When Lulu ladies complain about a dearth of attractive men, I recommend they try CrossFit. And while it’s true that yoga classes are full of long, lithe females, and CrossFit is where the boys are, these two disciplines beautifully counter-balance each other in each of us.

There isn’t a CrossFitter alive who wouldn’t benefit from the hip mobility needed for a pigeon pose. And if every yoga chick could fireman’s-carry her BFF for 50 meters and back, and squat her bodyweight, we’d be living in a better world.

So here’s my advice: Lulu ladies, see how many push-ups you can do in a minute – eye of the tiger! Fear not the barbell! CrossFitters: relax into the hip-splaying slow torture of vinyasa. Om, om, om. . . .

Photo Credit: Guryanov Andrey and Artem Furman/

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