I work with CrossFit, Yoga, and personal training, and there’s nothing I hear the most than “How can you do CrossFit and Yoga? The two are so different.” Its true, they are very different, and yet it’s the fact that they are so different which makes them so completely perfect for me. Over time though I have been able to study enough with the movements to see how the two are similar and compliment each other.
There are so many ways to exercise the core and yoga does a fantastic job of working the core from all angles, whether you are looking for stability, lateral and oblique strength, a 6 pack, or low back strength. Yoga puts you through a rage of isometric stretches and calisthenics that take your entire core through some intensive workouts!
Here are some yoga poses to help improve your pistol squats:
Hand to big Toe: balancing on one foot take your other foot out to the side getting a stretch in the opposite leg.
Getting your balance is a key factor in pistol squats but also getting used to having both side of your body doing two completely different things. Here one leg is actively engaged balancing your entire body while the other is more passively stretching. see more
Hand to big Toe forward Fold: There is more than one way to do this pose so I have altered this variation to take the traditional hand to big toe and make it a little more advance. In this pose you will balance on one foot taking the other out in front of you and grabbing it with both hands. Keep your balance and try getting your nose to you knee.
Once again balance is a key component, however balance in this variation we are messing with your eyes sight. Most of the time when you balance you pick one spot on the wall and stare at it really hard hoping it keeps you balanced. When you are doing a pistol though a lot of your energy is going to get refocused on the movement, and you may not be able to keep your eyes focused on that one spot, so it is important to be able to balance while you are looking in front of you or down and your leg. Of course again we see the concept of having both legs doing different things, and this stretch is more intense then the last (please don’t try this unless you can comfortably touch your toes with your legs straight any other time).
Eagle Pose: Balancing on one leg cross the other leg over top and sit back. Take the arm on same side as the leg you are balancing and cross it under your other arm bringing the hands back together palms together. Sit back/down as far as you can, while reaching your hands up as high as you can.
This movement again is making your body do a lot at once while still keeping you balance. This pose stretches out your upper back, and shoulders and glutes (one side at a time), as you keep you balance on one foot. This pose also gets you to start a squat. Even though you are all twisted up and your focus isn’t really on the squat, as soon as you start bending the standing leg knee, you are beginning your one legged squat(pistol). The further you go down, the closer you are to a squat, but don’t take it to much further than parallel. see more
Static pistol hold: balancing on one leg Take the other leg out straight in front of you and squat down as low as you can. Hold for 10 seconds and then come back up. Repeat.So the idea here isn’t to kill you with the static hold in fact feel free to squat down past the point of an engaged leg and relax at the bottom. Try to keep your heel down to keep your balance, but if your heel comes up it fine (its dorsi flexion something your bones will forever prohibit you from doing). The idea here is to try to pistol in increments. In yoga its traditional to go from a hand to big toe into a one legged chair, and then come up again, which would be a pistol squat, in this exercise, you start in a hand to big toe, squat past the one legged chair and into a comfortable place at the bottom before coming back up. This is just to help you get comfortable with the movements (especially the ascent), and get comfortable at the bottom. This not a pistol and if included in any workout, do not try to cheat through them with this.
Figure 4 chair: balancing on one foot, take the opposite foot to your balancing leg knee making like a figure four. Keeping your balance sit back into a one legged squat.
This is passively stretching out one side while actively engaging the other. This pose stretches out your glutes on one side while balancing and holding a static leg flexion (squat) on the other. The bend in the balancing leg adds both to your ability to balance while intensifying the action on your balancing leg. The bend in your leg also allows you to start squatting on one leg getting you closer to a pistol.
Warrior 3: Balancing on one leg, take your other leg back and bring your torso forward making your body like a capital “T”.
So far all of the poses have somewhat resembled a pistol and this one may be catching you off guard. Again this pose is enforcing the one legged balance as did the others, but like with the Hand To Big Toe Forward Fold, you are changing your perspective, you will find that in a pistol, you may find at first that symbolically reaching up into the air with your hands as if you could really pull your self up when your holding nothing actually works. There is some reasoning behind this. When you do a pistol, your legs lift you yes, but you are standing with your core and your legs, not just your legs. Standing with you core helps to keep your balance and pull yourself to standing using your core to help your legs. This pose will help to strengthen your lower back (an often overlooked part of the core) while also keeping you balanced on one leg.
Figure 4 balance: balancing on one foot, take the opposite foot to your balancing leg knee making like a figure four. Keeping your balance sit all the way down on your balancing legs foot, balancing now on your toes.
This pose is a crazy intense balancing pose. Reason is that you have shrunk yourself down taking away all of your bodies advantages to help you balance. You are also balancing on the balls of your one foot, which takes away the heel (third point to the foots’ balancing tripod). Once you squat all the way down, take your hands down to the ground and use your finger tips as kickstands to help you balance. As you become more comfortable with the pose allow your hands to come up and hold your balance without their assistance.