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BoxLife Magazine

5 Tips for Yoga Teachers at CrossFit Affiliates

By Kat Buechel

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January 14, 2015

We’ve seen how Yoga and CrossFit can work together, but as more and more CrossFit affiliates open and new teachers get hired how do we build a successful yoga program? A growing trend at CrossFit Affiliates is adding yoga to compliment intense training, but how do we educate and find teachers that fit this mold? As resources start to grow for yoga for the CrossFit community, resources for teachers instructing this community need to grow alongside it.
Here are my five tips for yoga teachers looking to start a yoga program at their local affiliate and CrossFit affiliate owners looking to find the perfect yoga teacher for their box:

1. Start with the Basics
All yoga teachers at an affiliate should understand the nine foundational movements in CrossFit. You do not need to drop $1K on the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certification to learn the basics. The CrossFit community is the best in the business at providing free resources to anyone and everyone who would like them. Check out CrossFit.com and the CrossFit Journal for resources on training and programming.

2. Understand Programming
CrossFit is successful because of variance, but be prepared to walk in with a class plan and change it at any moment. Instructors should look at the Work Out of the Day (WOD) schedule daily in order to understand movements. Understanding the WOD will help you program your yoga class as an athletic or an active recovery day. Tip: Use mobility sites like Kelly Starrett’s mobilityWOD.com or use a yin yoga sequence to find a restorative balance to training. You aren’t going to have your athletes participate in 108 sun salutation mala the same day they do 100 burpees for time, so come prepared.

3. Start Small and Expect Excuses
Add one weekly class to your schedule and expect it to be small. Yoga classes take time to grow, but have patience as it takes time to build a successful program. Athletes are full of excuses for not coming to class. I’ve heard it all from “I’m too inflexible to come to yoga” to “yoga is too slow.” Fact: yoga will not be for everyone. However; if you didn’t think you were strong enough for CrossFit would you just stop lifting weights? Flexibility and yoga is called a practice for a reason.

4. Yoga teachers need to do CrossFit
Buy a membership or bargain for classes from the affiliate owner in exchange for teaching. CrossFit programming is based on three key elements: Metcons, Weightlifting, and Gymnastics. Learn the basics by not reading up on them and by doing foundations at an affiliate. Understanding how your body feels when it’s pushed to the limit in a WOD will help you become a better instructor. You would never teach a Yoga class if you didn’t feel comfortable in your own body, so why would you teach to a group of CrossFitters if you didn’t understand the stresses and demands they place on their bodies?

5. Prepare Athletes Mentally
Physical strength is important, but mental strength is part of the toolkit for long-term success. In yoga, Dharana or “Concentration in the Eight Fold Path” can provide athletes with a deeper awareness. Introduce a five to ten minute meditation practice on a recovery day or pair it with a nutrition challenge when setting new goals or benchmarks.
Yogis are used to doing things that make them uncomfortable (inversions and arm balances anyone?). CrossFit can be a scary arena to step into, but one that’s well worth the journey. As yoga training programs continue to graduate new teachers that will join the world of CrossFit it is important for experienced teachers to provide resources to this unique community. Start small, learn functional movement, and enjoy the growing strength of the affiliate community.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Lynn Taylor Photography

Kat Buechel

About Kat Buechel

Kat, 500hr RYT, is a yoga teacher in Washington, DC. She is BoxLife Magazine's yoga contributor and has helped active military, police force, ROTC, and fire fighters train for everyday service through the use of yoga. You can find her teaching yoga at CrossFit Adaptation, CrossFit Falls Church, and Tranquil Space. www.321omfitness.com View all posts by Kat Buechel →

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