Yoga for CrossFit - Backbends & Deadlifts

You’ll likely know the locust pose (salabhasana) as ‘superman’ as part of your warm-up, arch to hollow for example. Did you know that this pose is also a brilliant way to build strength in the back with a view to preparing the body for the deadlift, one of the fundamental lifts of CrossFit?

At first glance, the pose looks quite simple, but don’t be fooled – correct alignment and muscular engagement are key, and this takes practice. Locust pose opens the chest, shoulders and neck while also working the abs and promoting mobility in the lumbar spine, the lower back.

Image courtesy of yogaanatomy.net

Image courtesy of yogaanatomy.net

Now, back to the deadlift – in this lift, the hips extend under load while maintaining the integrity of the spine. To achieve this, the spinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum (among others) have to get to work. To perform this movement safely, the curve of the lumbar spine needs to be maintained. Failure to do so is a common reason for injury resulting from incorrectly performed deadlifts.

In the locust pose, we practice the action of lifting the upper back without creating strain in the lower back, which will help lengthen and strengthen the muscles involved in this movement and also improve your awareness of targeted muscular engagement in these areas. There are a number of variations to the locust pose, including some that will help promote overhead mobility – something most of us struggle with! My Yoga for Sports classes are suitable for all levels, complete beginners welcome. Check my schedule for class times and locations, see ya on the mat!

Locust or Superman? You decide!

Locust or Superman? You decide!

Arm Balances or the Art of Flight

Arm balances are an excellent - and ninja - way to build strength in the arms and wrists, but also to improve your proprioception and fine motor skills.

To allow us humans to walk upright and support much of our weight on our two legs, the hip joints are designed to be robust and stable. The shoulder on the other hand is extremely mobile, and therefore requires support from the surrounding soft tissues – muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Because the joint is so unstable, shoulders are prone to pain and injury. This needs to be considered when practising any arm balance, as it’s easy to just collapse into the pose, without considering the necessity of having to lift up through the midline.  Abdominal strength is required in order to stabilise the torso and allow the pelvis and legs to come off the ground to achieve this type of posture. In other words, you’re equally going to have to work those abs in order to take flight.

Crow Pose

Muscles are strengthened in the range of motion in which you work them, so it's good to mix things up and move in different ways to create new movement patterns. Don't get hung up on the end result - focus on the progressions (kramas) along the way and take them as stepping stones paving the way towards where you want to get to. In other words, they're huge achievements in their own right. Never skip the basics!!!