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Yoga - CrossFit London

For vanity or mental resilience, its yes to handstands!

Even if you cannot get into your beloved gym at CrossFit London, you should always be building regular handstand practice into your life.

Whether it’s a free-standing handstand, a headstand, or a dish shape, you can be working towards inverted cool, effective moves!

We have drills and skills units in our facebook group and our trainers publish lots of handy technique videos like this one

To be utterly truthful, we don’t actually care if you get a free-standing handstand. If you do it’s because you have listend to our expert coaching and have put in loads of daily work. Not everyone can.

However, for us, the simple act of getting you comfortable with being upside down, or partially inverted can have remarkable physical and mental health benefits! It strengthens your core, makes you work on your shoulder mobility, and builds your wrists.

The training itself is the secret!

From a mental health point of you, if you are frightened by inversion, our progressive drills will help you manage that fear. This can really help with your general stress inoculation. If you’ve beaten this fear, maybe stressors at work won’t be as bad. If you can lead your body, by progressive drills and practice, to get upside down, maybe you can effectively lead your team at work to do a bit better!

It sounds weird but the pillars of mental resilience are

  • SELF-BELIEF – confidence in your own abilities and judgment
  • POSITIVE AFFECT – the ability to interact with life in a positive way
  • EMOTIONAL CONTROL – the ability to understand and express your emotions
  • MENTAL CONTROL – the ability to control thinking, attention, concentration, focus, self-awareness, reflexivity, problem-solving
  • SENSE OF PURPOSE – the motivation that drives you forward
  • COPING – adaptability, natural coping strategies you have learned through coping in a previously stressful situation
  • SOCIAL SUPPORT – the social network you have and the ways you use it

This mirrors exactly the process by which you nail the handstand and the way at which Crossfit Londons training makes you a more effective operator in the competitive London jobs market.  When learning a handstand, a wandering mind, emotional tantrums, no sense of purpose, negative thinking stop you from learning. By learning with progressive drills  you lever in social support and start developing coping skills.

Nothing builds coping skills like handstand practice.

 

If you want help releasing the better you,  get in contact!

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Calisthenics and the 90/90 balloon drill

Inevitably the issue of breathing had to come up in our experimental Calisthenics class. Breathing can influence so may aspects of performance, that it’s worth becoming familiar with some of the more  popular breathing drills and concepts.

Increasingly you will see on cutting edged fitness blogs, the 90/90 breathing drill. As a cutting edge fitness class we looked at this skill last night.

The original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill was, to my knowledge, properly discussed by Boyle et al, ( 2010).

90/90 breathing was designed, so they say,  to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010).

Here is a handy dandy “How to do it” guide

 

  1. Lie on your back,  feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
  2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees.
  3. Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
  4. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
  5. Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
  6. Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  7. Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose (the first few times you do this is slightly tricky).
  8. Slowly blow out  into the balloon again.
  9. Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
  10. The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is  annoying.
  11. Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.

You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation

The 90/90 rests on a concept  called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome.  In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”

If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished.  This affects the diaphragms ability to build up  intra abdominal pressure.  If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .

The set up of 90/90 , allegedly aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in  the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious,  dysfunctional breathing and physical activity  takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas  (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However, the Lukas study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method

“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills

I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction.

Why not practice on the tube (not with the balloon, obviously).

 

References

Alverdes, Lukas  (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University

Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.

 

COME & CHECK US OUT

Gymnastic strength, calisthenics, asanas

No matter what name you decide to call it, there are movements and static holds that say an awful lot about you. People who can plank, perform a lever, pop out a muscle up, hold a crow and get into the plough – are special.

Mastery of the asanas commonly associated with modern day yoga,  if combined with the famous moves associated with gymnastic strength: the human flag, the lever, the muscle up and the planche, begins the process of building awesome human beings. At CFLDN’s Crossfit Londons Bethnal Greens facility we want all our  athletes to learn how to control and manipulate external weights through regimes such as power and Olympic lifting while at the same time learning to  control and manipulate their own body weight.

Competency in these moves and the bodyweight ones in particular appear at a unique human cross-section. It’s where strength meets agility, flexibility, balance, endurance and mental calmness embraced within the mastery of technique.

Our Gymnastic-based classes represent an amazing challenge. There are, after all, gifts of health and vitality to be harvested.  However, there is a private hell to pass through as each stage is learned: perhaps only made tolerable by working with other committed, lovely people.

 

There is another key that underpins the value of  an asana, gymnastic-based process. You only learn cool moves one step at a time. In a world that worships ease convenience and instant gratification, there is a value in learning how to play the long game.

It develops grit.

It just makes you a better person.

COME & CHECK US OUT

Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Next Level Chillin'

On Tuesday it’s Halloween, all hallows eve. A time during which the gate between the world of the living and the dead is wide open – allegedly. In any case, we’re going to take this opportunity to spend a good amount of time in savasana, the corpse pose, to let the physical body rest and quieten down the mind.
In other words, we’ll be throwing a few restorative shapes, before I take you through a progressive muscle relaxation. PMR is an excellent way to not only improve awareness of your physical body in space (aka, proprioception) by targetting individual muscles, or muscle groups, but also to sharpen your focus by drawing your attention to a specific body part for a brief moment in time, and linking that to your breath – sound familiar?
Following on from last week, let me reiterate just how important it is that you allow yourself sufficient capacity to recover from your training in the gym. Physical exercise is a stressor on your system, even more so when performed at high intensity.
As we grind through those workouts day in, day out, we tend to forget how to breathe properly (remember 17.5, anyone? Dark times), and this can ultimately lead to, or contribute to, muscle tension and muscle spasms (abmat sit-ups for reps, need I say more?)
Yoga for CrossFit
Proper breathing is an often under-estimated tool you can use to aid your performance. As with everything else, it’s something that you improve through regular practice – all it takes is a little conscious effort.
It’s a fundamental part of the practice of yoga, and next week we’ll be drawing on this specifically to aid your recovery and general relaxation.
As it is starting to get a bit nippy now, please bring adequate clothing and layers, as we will be horizontal for a good part of the class. Take a pair of warm socks, perhaps even a thin blanket and/or an eye mask, if you have one.
Click here to book in, see you bright and early on Tuesday!
Yoga for CrossFit

7am roll call – Time to get upside down!

Working out at the gym puts stress on your system. In order to get the most out of your training regime, you need to make adequate provisions for recovery – eating, sleeping etc. – no rocket science here, and you know this already anyway! The focus in this week’s Yoga for Athletes class will be on inversions. That’s not just handstands, headstands and so on by the way. An inversion is any posture whereby the head is lower than the heart. An excellent way to calm down the CNS, and of course to build strength in the arms and shoulders, as well as to hone those ninja skills.
We’ll be practising a restorative form of pranayama (‘control of breath’) to begin with, before exploring different progressions of the traditional yogi headstand (sirsasana) as well as the forearm stand (pincha mayurasana). If there mere thought of that makes you feel a little queasy – fear not! We will be building up to these big poses safely and with plenty of wall space to support. If you’re a HSPU ninja, come along to mix it up a little, get those rhomboids to work and add to your gymnastics ninja repertoire. If you’re working on building strength to hold yourself upside down – this class is for you, to get used to holding your weight over your shoulders in a way that is stable. Change of perspective and a bit of added zen, how’s that for a good start to the day? Click here to book, see ya there!

Yoga for Sports

Standard post-workout state. If you train hard, you gotta let your system recover!

Locust or Superman?

Now that is a good question! Depends on whether you ask a yogi or a CrossFitter! In any case, it’s one of the shapes we’ll be getting into during Tuesday’s practice. In this week’s class, we’re going to focus on mobilising the spine by getting into all sorts of twists, so be prepared to wring out those obliques – because we all love a bit of extra-curricular accessory work, right? Thought so ?
Then, we’ve got a couple backbends to release the lower back, a few shoulder and wrist mobilisers as well as a sun salutation flow to make sure you’re awake and ready to rule the day by the time we wrap up.
Gonna be a good crew, please book in here if you would like to join! Tuesday rise & shine/flex my friends! See you there, meanwhile I hope you all took today as an opportunity to take that fitness outside into the sunshine!
Yoga for Cyclists

The Sun Salutation – How is it going to benefit your training?

If you’ve done yoga before, you will have practiced it, and if you haven’t, you may well have heard of it – the sun salutation, or surya namaskar, by its Sanskrit name. The sun salutation is a foundational sequence of roughly a dozen asanas (yoga postures), performed in the same order and usually at the beginning of a yoga practice. There are different variations, e.g. the classical sun salutation, surya namaskar A & B – you’ll be coming across them all in my classes. Now, let’s look at why you should integrate them into your programme to complement your training at the gym.

  1. No equipment needed

The sun salutation is a type of bodyweight exercise and you can do it anywhere. I like to take my practice outside whenever possible, making the most of London’s many green spaces. You’ll have the choreography down in no time, meaning you’ll bust out those downward facing dogs and baby cobras without even thinking about what comes when before you know it.

Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing Dog

  1. It makes for a great warm-up, cool-down or a full-on workout in its own right

It all depends on how you pace it, and how many rounds you complete. In vinyasa flow yoga, the style in which I teach, it’s the rhythm of your breath that leads you from one posture to the next, meaning you – or on occasion I, if you practice with me in class – set the pace. It’s a great way to warm up before a workout, and to bring that heart rate down when you’re hanging out of your arse after a savage metcon.

  1. It mobilises the spine

The practice of yoga asana aims to move the spine in all directions by means of forward folds, backbends and twists. The sun salutation incorporates a number of poses that repeatedly flex and extend the spine, particularly the lumbar. This promotes spinal disc health as the biochemical process controlling disc hydration is stimulated through on and off pressure. The spinal discs already have very poor blood supply – now add to that gravity from walking upright, general lack of movement due to a sedentary lifestyle for many of us, natural degeneration through ageing, as well as compression under load from weightlifting and you have…less than ideal conditions for your discs to stay happy and healthy!

Bhujangasana - Cobra

Bhujangasana – Cobra

  1. It makes for happy hammies

Struggling to keep a neutral spine when deadlifting? Tight hamstrings are a common plight, and not only among athletes. There’s three of these muscles – they originate at the sitting bone, and the back of the femur (that’s your thigh bone) respectively. Tightness in this area may cause the pelvis to tuck under, and therefore compromise the integrity of the spine in CrossFit movements such as the deadlift. As with everything, consistency is key, and I guarantee you that you will be able to touch your toes no matter how impossible that may seem at this point in time – incidentally it’s one of the most frequent reasons I hear people give for not coming to class. No more excuses now, get yourself on the mat or the gym floor and start stretching!

Uttanasana - Forward fold

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold

  1. It helps you get to that next ninja level

The sun salutation engages approximately 140 muscles in the body, using nothing but your own bodyweight. How’s that for a well-rounded workout? Mindful movement helps cultivate proprioception, i.e. the awareness of whereabouts in space your various body parts are, and controlling that – aka ninja skills. If you’re struggling with certain movements such as the push-up, try a chaturanga dandasana variation I’ll be teaching you, whereby you’ll learn how to gradually lower yourself down towards the ground from plank, eventually hovering a couple inches above the floor.
I’m running a weekly yoga class on Tuesday mornings, 7-8am at Gales Gardens, starting Tuesday Oct 10th. Suitable for all levels, complete beginners most welcome! Click here to book in, and feel free to email me at christine[at]crossfitlondonuk.com if you have any questions.
Click here if you missed last week’s post on who I am, and what you can expect from my classes.
 

New weekly Yoga for Crossfitters class

Hey team,
Your Crossfit coaches help you get swole, now it’s time to get flexy! Come and join me on the mat for an hour on Tuesday mornings at 7am, starting Oct 10th. I’m stoked to meet you guys & gals!
Who am I?
I was brought up in Bavaria in the Southeast of Germany and have been living in the Big Smoke for the past 12 years. When I’m not working in my job as a quality manager in construction, I try and spend as much time outside as possible. Hiking, riding my bike, my skateboard, climbing, running the occasional obstacle course or endurance race – I’ll take anything over sitting on my arse in front of the telly! Crossfit helps me get into shape for my endeavours, while a regular yoga practice helps me stay supple…and keep a level head!
Christine_MvL
How did I get into CF?
I was looking for a type of training to help me get stronger and level out a few board sports-induced strength imbalances. So initially I started doing CF to help my skateboarding. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back and am now increasingly gravitating towards putting that fitness to good use outside of the gym and testing out that general physical preparedness!
Christine_KnK
Random fact?
In January I rowed the full marathon distance of 42.195m on an erg unbroken in 3:30:08, for no reason other than that I wanted to, after racking up nearly 240.000m prior. Hit me up at christine[at]crossfitlondonuk.com for tips on distance rowing or if you’re keen to find out more on how to prepare for, and get through this kinda thing.
Christine_Row
Why yoga?
Um, why not?! I could write a novel on the many physical and mental benefits and why I think everyone should be doing it!
Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming posts on how a regular yoga practice will positively impact on your performance at the gym. Meanwhile, you can also head over to my website at www.yogishapes.com to find out more about me and my philosophy.
Falka_Plank
I’m just not down with this new age hippy shiz…and how do you even ‘radiate from the heart space’?!
Oh good, cos neither am I! My classes are primarily built around specific muscle groups with a strong emphasis on alignment and anatomy. I do believe in mindfulness as an extremely powerful tool to improve performance, especially if you’re competing or generally enjoy pushing your limits. The word yoga means to yoke, or to unite, and through the practice of asana, the physical postures, as well as pranayama, a variety of breathing techniques, we aim to establish, and strengthen that mind-body connection. However you won’t find any flowery language, chanting or incense in my classes. What can you expect then?
A friendly space where every body is welcome – my yoga classes are suitable for all levels, so don’t worry about not being flexible enough! Just as in Crossfit, modifications are available for the postures and I will offer hands-on adjustments to help you get the most out of your practice. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
bhujapidasana
Favourite workout?
Small:
3 RFT – 1k row, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps @ 24″, 800m run
Favourite dessert?
Banoffee pie!!!
My weekly class will run at Gales Gardens on Tuesday mornings from 7-8am, starting Oct 10th. Book in here to get your stretch on!
Christine_Leake_St