The Peanut Butter to My Jelly: Yoga and Athletes

When some of us hear the word "yoga" we picture thin, flexible ladies who can whip their leg behind their head and do some crazy ass yoga poses that makes us swear they are related to Gumby. Rarely do we think of the word "yoga" and picture athletic, muscular men and women performing the fundamentals of yoga to increase performance in their sport; until now!!! Yoga is for EVERYONE, especially athletes.

What's in it for athletes?

Mobility defines CrossFit as "constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity." We all know that CrossFit includes movements such as weightlifting, running, pull ups, and box jumps. How can athletes perform these varied functional movements safely? With proper mobility! Think about it, when specific areas of are stiff, our bodies naturally compensate in other areas. So for example, are your shoulders tight? Do you find that you arch your back in an overhead squat to compensate for shoulder mobility?

Injury Prevention

When athletes have mobility limitations, we open ourselves up for injury because our bodies will compensate one way or another which leads to adding unnecessary stress to joints and muscles. Through yoga postures, athletes can address joint mobility and muscle tightness and as a result prevent injuries during functional movements.

The injury prevention I'm talking about here is developmental mobility which over time increases our flexibility, permanently. So, yoga and mobility training needs to be done more than here and there. Consistency will bring us improved mobility allowing us to be safer in our movements.

Breath Control

Every CrossFit athlete has experienced heavy breathing during WODs. Some of us have experienced panicked breathing during thrusters, wall balls, running, or other functional movements thrown our way (I'm speaking from experience here!!). When an athlete knows how to control breath, we reduce panic during WODs, we breathe more efficiently, and as a result our performance increases (or at a minimum we don't feel like we're going to die from hyperventilation).

Yoga links movement with breathing. Most of us shallow breathe during the day (are you doing it now)? Through yoga, we experience what it feels like to have full deep breathing. With awareness to our breathing, we can start to learn to breathe more slowly and more deeply. This translates back to WODs for example, next time you're doing thrusters or wall balls inhale on the way down exhale on the way up and see how patterned breathing makes you feel.

The Proof

As an athlete are you still skeptical on this whole yoga thing? Here's some proof for you. Meet Maxie.

Maxie started yoga for the first time with me and was encouraged to try yoga from her weightlifting coach. After only a few weeks of doing yoga with Tiffany and adding specific movements for mobility, Maxie improved her front squat by 100 pounds! Did you see that...100 POUNDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Her shoulder mobility improved so much, that when she was squatting, she could properly rack the bar and keep her elbows high so she didn’t dump the weight forward when coming up from the squat position.

Join me Saturdays at CrossFit Rebels in Clearwater for yoga. The environment is not traditional-there's lots of noise and sometimes gangster rap music but that's what makes it fun. We don't take ourselves too seriously. I teach yoga that's accessible for our athletic bodies and I'll never ask you to put your leg behind your head. You'll be with good company and surrounded by other athletes of all levels and abilities. For more information contact me or visit

This post was originally posted January 2018.

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