YOGA & CROSSFIT - a balancing act
Defining what Yoga is would require more than an article. Yet, we can start framing it by giving the definition of the Yoga sutras in which it is presented as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga is the balance of energies, the balance between mental, emotional and physical patterns, necessary to anchor ourselves in the present moment. Through practice, the different facets of the human personality - intellect, movement, emotions - reconnect. Yoga allows concentration - on the self, on the other and our environment. It is a state of pure mindfulness.
The most wonderful thing about Yoga is that it is a fundamentally personal discipline whose outlines are self-imposed. You are the one defining the way you feel like integrating the core values of Yoga to your life to create your own practice. These values, the Yamas and Nyamas, provide the foundation on which to build up. We seldom have such opportunities in life to look inward and act according to what we consider to be the fundamentals of our lives. Being yogic is not about handstand or splits, it is a lifestyle (and not a style)!
In Yoga, the physical practice, the Asanas, is a prerequisite for breathing and meditation. Asanas untie the body, forge it in strength and flexibility, allow us to find a unique flow: each asana is in itself a work of art and a subject of concentration, an invitation to give oneself the means and to make of every moment a progression towards a state of awakening.
So what’s the link with Crossfit or training in a more general way?
What strikes me at first is the role played by mental strength in both disciplines. Learning how to remain focus but also how to engage your body depending on the effort needed is a critical pattern that we constantly work as part of the Yoga practice. This includes developing our concentration skills. Yet it goes beyond this with the knowledge of the functioning of breathing we acquire through Yoga and even more with the reconnection with our own body.
Yoga is not about posting amazing poses on Instagram. On the contrary it should be a way to retrieve a sense of true self love and awareness, without judgement or misplaced expectations. By comparing ourselves, we simply ensure not to build the foundations of a healthy and skyrocketing practice. The essence of Yoga is found through practice and being attentive to what our bodies tell us. And so is the one of any sport training!
“Have fun screwing up…it means you are removing your ego from the problem” - Greg Glassman
In the perspective of a regular high intensity training such as Crossfit, Yoga allows us to be aware of when we could be overdoing (and avoid excessive training), creates time for recovery and improving general mobility and isometric strengthening while teaching us how to control our breathing and adapt it to situations.
Yet, Crossfit is also a great complement for Yogis to develop more strength and discover new skills beyond the mat.
In a way, the love of movement and of the incredible (and almost infinite) abilities of our bodies gather both. In both practices, we also pay a careful attention to how we fuel up our organism (nutrition and quality of food, hydration, breathing) to allow a continuous journey of experience. It is easy to convince ourselves that an unhealthy body is ok. But chronic diseases as much as limitation of movement do have an impact on our daily life. Who would not like to sleep better, look fitter and stress less? Crossfit trainers and Yoga teacher are for sure not doctors but they do can effectively improve those not so tiny things that make life brighter and easier!
“It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver” - Mahatma Gandhi
The yoga mat is a space of creation – as much as the rubber floor of the Box. They both invite us to defy our limits and confront the incessant fluctuations of the mental : why am I here? How could I ever master this move? Why is he/she so much better than me? Is it too hard or too easy? Where is my comfort zone and should I get out of it? Where do I actually want to be?
Finding answers to those question is a whole process in itself. However redefining our frameworks and finding balance in our physical and mental practice is already a good start toward more understanding and consciousness, whatever tools we use!
“Optimal physical competency is a compromise, a balancing act; a compromise between not only conflicting but perfectly antagonistic skills. The manner in which you resolve this conflict defines the quality of your fitness and is the art of exercise prescription” - Greg Glassman