• Man and woman are practicing yoga.

    The cross-yoga trend: Where fitness training and deep relaxation meet.

    More and more yoga studios are now offering cross-yoga. The new combination of demanding work-outs and gentle yoga promises to be a great success.

    Text: Rebecca Randak

Fitness and philosophy.

“Yoga and fitness training? How is that supposed to work?” That’s the first thing to go through the minds of many a hardened yogi when they hear about the new course format being offered by Dr Patrick Broome, the yoga teacher of the German national football team. We’re talking about cross-yoga, where the calm of yoga is combined with the kind of fitness exercises designed to help with everyday activities – known as functional training. You can’t really blame the yogis: in the past few years the fitness industry has assimilated the physical exercises from yoga, watered down its philosophy and applied marketing slogans to transform it into absurd styles which no longer bear any relationship to yoga. But cross-yoga is a different story.

Man and woman practicing cross yoga.
Man and woman practicing cross yoga.

The correct balance.

The first half of the 45-minute workout comprises exercises used in functional training. In short intervals and at high intensity the participants practise knee bends, run circles and do push-ups. Dr Broome always joins in with the exercises. “I want to motivate people to give their all. In this part of the session they should be really pushing themselves and feeling their bodies,” he says enthusiastically. This is followed by 20 minutes of simple yoga exercises involving gentle stretching – no complicated contortions. For the final phase, yogic deep relaxation, the students all lie on their backs and cover themselves with a blanket to preserve their body heat, and close their eyes. Dr Broome gently encourages the group to focus their awareness on certain parts of the body and to consciously relax these. After a few minutes the first snores can be heard, a sure sign that the relaxation technique is working well!

  • Man and woman practicing cross yoga.

Mindfulness as a priority.

In contrast to cross training or street workouts, where the focus is on high levels of performance and competitiveness, functional training is all about strengthening the body and keeping it healthy using a mindful approach. In addition, these intensive exercises also prepare the body for the spiritual dimension of yoga: “In yoga the focus is not on the body but on tempering the fluctuations of the mind.

And they are much easier to tame if we first get the body up to full speed,” Dr Broome explains. He’s right: at the end of the course everyone looks fresh and revitalised. In the past three quarters of an hour, calm has descended upon the studio again; all stress, listlessness and tension has been banished from bodies and minds.

Training like champions.

The idea of cross-yoga came to Dr Broome at a training camp with the German national football squad, where he was part of the coaching staff working with Joachim Löw’s players. He and his colleague Mark Verstegen, the guru of functional training, found that starting training sessions with functional training and ending them with simple yoga exercises and relaxation techniques was ideal for the players’ well-being and fitness. Now Dr Broome exercises this way himself: “I’m away a lot. When I’m at home I’m busy looking after my children or the studios. There’s not much time left for an extended yoga session. But I take 30 to 45 minutes every day to keep fit and above all to gain my inner peace.”

Man and woman practicing cross yoga.
Man and woman practicing cross yoga.

A mini cross-yoga session to practise at home.

The best thing about cross-yoga is that you don’t actually need a teacher. This means that people who don’t happen to be professional footballers or live in Munich can exercise at home.

  • Download the “7 Min Workout” app by Fitness Guide. It has good instructions for the exercises. Feel free to try other programmes if you don’t like the voice or the explanations. It’s best to go through the cycle of exercises twice if you have time. If you are in a hurry you can do less.
  • Take pleasure in stretching in all directions. If you know any simple yoga exercises or other types of stretch feel free to do these. Anything that does the body good is allowed.
    Lie on your back, on a yoga mat or soft carpet perhaps, and make yourself comfortable, ready to relax. You may have a guide for yoga nidra, a technique for entering deeper layers of consciousness, or one for autogenic training.
  • If you like to complete this part of the exercise with Dr Broome, you can play his YouTube video – you’re guaranteed to achieve deep relaxation.

Now cross-yoga is so popular at Dr Broome’s studios that even some full-blooded yogis have been won over. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter which technique brings your body and mind into equilibrium: the main thing is that is works.