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!

Recovery & The Role of the Nervous System

To really recover means more than having an Epsom salt bath, taking a few days off training and waiting for the DOMS to subside. Your nervous system plays a key role in recovery, however this aspect is still often overlooked.

The human body is pretty damn clever. Our autonomic (i.e., we cannot consciously control it) nervous system is made up of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS mobilises the body’s resources in a fight or flight situation, whereas the PNS regulates the bodily functions needed to repair and recover. The body is designed to spend the majority of its time directed by the PNS, with the SNS response only triggering in case of a life-threatening emergency. However, the body interprets all stress, be it mental or physical, as a reason to activate the SNS.

Therefore, physical exercise is a stressor on the system.

Concept 2 Rowing

What does this mean for your training or fitness regime?

The key to improving your recovery is to activate the PNS, which is exactly what we are doing through the practice of yoga - even if it may feel challening at times. Linking movement with breath through a series of postures (asanas) as well as practising breathing techniques (pranayama) to calm down the system, slow down the heart rate and elicit the body's relaxation response.

Better recovery is the main purpose of my yoga for sports class - click here to find out where you can practice with me.

Post-cycling legs up the wall (viparita karani)

Post-cycling legs up the wall (viparita karani)