Okay, first let’s breathe — that wasn’t sarcasm. I know this title might create a reaction. For most people who do yoga, it’s changed their lives. I get it, and you should be protective of it. But the point of this story isn’t to create sides or a feud. It’s to learn from one another and build stronger communities.
I believe the worlds of yoga and CrossFit can compliment each other, rather than compete. My goal is to create a bridge, not a wall. Here are three things I believe yoga can learn from CrossFit:
1. How to build a tight-knit community
Although CrossFit is inherently competitive due to the structure and the type of athletes it attracts, the spirit of the CrossFit community creates a glue that holds everyone together, giving you an instant tribe.
We come to CrossFit for our fitness goals, but we stay because of the amount of support and love we receive from complete strangers. It’s this tribe that yoga tends to lack sometimes. Yoga has an underlining competitive energy that is hidden behind a spiritual mask and brushed under the mat.
Yes, we rip our shirts off in the middle of our workouts, use language only we understand, get obsessed about what we eat, make a video of every workout we do and spend way too much time together. But think about it. Why do CrossFitters do this? The answer lies in one word, community. Our over-the-top antics stem from the tightness of our tribe. If we didn’t feel safe, it wouldn’t be happening. I’m sure many yoga studios have amazingly tight communities. But in general, yoga is a very solitary experience, whereas CrossFit is community based from day one.
2. How to practice skill transparency
Although we do yoga with others, the focus is usually on our own practice. We don’t announce or share what we struggle with to the class. We tend to keep it inside. Maybe because we’re embarrassed or feel like we should be “better.” It’s tough to practice skill transparency in yoga when the girl next to you is balancing her entire body on one finger.
In CrossFit, most members speak openly about their “weaknesses” and what they need to work on. They literally announce it during their classes because they feel comfortable and safe. This transparency creates more of a team environment than an individual journey. The result is members helping each other instead of competing with each other. Of course, there is still a lot of competition in the CrossFit community, but what makes it a healthy competition is that you feel like you’re on the same team.
3. How to lose the ego
There is ego and arrogance in any arena where humans meet performance. From all of the home videos posted by CrossFitters, it might seem like we are a wildly arrogant bunch. But in reality, when you walk into a CrossFit facility, you are welcome with open arms and the "arrogance" from the videos you see are only shadows created by culture and enthusiasm. The person who comes in last is usually cheered on more than the CrossFitter who comes in first.
In yoga classes, there's a different spirit. Maybe not all of the time, but I've noticed that when you walk into a yoga studio, there's a lot of underlining I's instead of we's. The instructor may be supportive with the newbie, but rarely have I seen members of the class help and support each other. Many are too busy showing off. From my experience, there are definitely a lot less high fives in yoga.
There are certainly things CrossFitters can learn from yoga, like the holistic, spiritual and healing aspects of the practice. I'll make sure I get my yoga on this week as well. I hope we can learn from both our communities and grow together instead of apart.