Women’s Only: Cindy Lau

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                                      Cindy in an advanced Bikram yoga pose.

Why CrossFit + Yoga = Awesomeness

by Cindy Lau, owner of CrossFit Kindred

  • How can practicing yoga benefit a CrossFit athlete?
  • How do you balance doing CrossFit and yoga?

I love CrossFit. I also love Bikram yoga. So I’m often puzzled to hear the occasional CrossFitter disparaging yoga as, essentially, weak sauce. On the contrary, I’ve experienced CrossFit and yoga as the perfect complements. Having practiced Bikram yoga daily for about a year and a half before I began CrossFitting, I immediately found that I was ahead of the game in several ways because of my consistent yoga practice; in fact, it’s been my secret weapon!

My most obvious edge up is flexibility. How many stiff guys do you know who show up at the box unable to even think about getting into the bottom of a squat with a stable midline? Not a problem for me. From duck walks and air squats to the clean and snatch, quickly dropping into the hole or under the bar felt natural to me from the start. I was able to find the right positioning, and from there it was just a question of building my technique and strength across that full ROM.

But the biggest win I’ve experienced being a Bikram yogini has been mental fortitude.
Another benefit is physical and energetic balance. I LOVE Kelly Starrett’s mobility wisdom, but I must confess that after juggling high intensity WODs with the increasingly fast pace of life and work, I’m not always motivated to do my mobility homework consistently and confront the dreaded pain face. After grueling hero WODs that make me feel stiff and sore, yoga is a great alternative form of active recovery and of slowing things down. And taking a Bikram yoga class in a group setting brings not only the consistency of routine, but also its own flavor of camaraderie–both things I value in CrossFit as well.

But the biggest win I’ve experienced being a Bikram yogini has been mental fortitude. If you’ve ever taken a Bikram yoga class, you know what I mean! According to Bikram Choudhury, who created Bikram yoga, the five qualities of mind to be cultivated are faith, self-control, determination, concentration, and patience. I really noticed I could apply these skills to CrossFit right away–staying focused on the next rep, pacing myself to finish strong and stay at my edge, and applying that calm yet bulletproof grit I got from my yoga practice.

So to the naysayers I say:  find what works for you–and don’t knock it ‘til you try it!


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