This is a guest blog from my lovely friend Jade, who is a total yoga guru, on how yoga can help you as a climber. You can find out more about her her yoga retreats on her website, www.jadelizzie.com.
More and more climbers are discovering yoga, and for good reason. Yoga is about a lot more than just bending. Yes, it helps you improve your flexibility, but it can also help you to build mental and physical strength. All of these have the potential to take your climbing to the next level.
Here’s how yoga can help you climb:
Tightness in the hips can restrict your range of motion when climbing. Many of us have tension in these areas anyway, through too much sitting, and sometimes the physicality of climbing can exacerbate that stiffness. Yoga is a great way to work into the tight areas, and safely release them, restoring your range of motion. Great postures for this are Pigeon Pose and Bound Angle Pose. Move mindfully into the postures, and hold them for 10 breaths or more, consciously letting go of any muscular holding that you notice.
It’s also a great idea to release your shoulders and upper body after climbing. The arm position for Eagle Pose will release the back of your shoulders, while interlacing your fingers behind your back and pressing your knuckles towards the floor as you lift your chest will help you to stretch out your chest.
Just try lowering slowly from high plank to chaturanga and back again and you’ll see that there’s a lot more to yoga than having open hamstrings. The all over strength and the ability to hold your own body weight that you develop through yoga is invaluable in climbing. After warming your body with some dynamic Sun Salutations, you can’t beat the Warrior Poses for helping you to fire up your legs. Warrior III is also great for strengthening your core and improving your balance. You need both flexibility and strength for climbing, and yoga can help you to find that balance in your body.
Climbing can be terrifying. It takes a lot of mind control when you’re on that rock to make a rational decision about how to make a move, when it’s a very real possibility you might fall. Yoga can provide incredible training and exercise for your mind. Maintaining mindful awareness while moving through yoga postures strengthens your focus and concentration. Not only that, but yoga challenges you to move out of your comfort zone, to face your fears and to experience discomfort without shying away from it. Under the guidance of a teacher, learning headstand, handstand or a new arm balance is a great way to practise facing your fears, while maintaining control of your mind, body and breath.
Yoga’s power to strengthen you on so many different levels is one of the many reasons I love it so much. Whether you’re experiencing physical or mental challenges with your climbing, yoga can help you to get over them.
If you’re wanting to take your strengthening yoga practice to another level, and work through some of your fears while you’re at it, I highly recommend this free online class from the incredible Ana Forrest. I discovered it a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. Let me know how you get on!
Much love Jade xxx