The Benefits of Yoga for Climbers
Yoga is becoming more popular in the climbing scene. Famous climbers are snapping yoga pics for their social media accounts and new gyms often include a yoga studio. Most climbers I’ve spoken to want to practice yoga to gain better flexibility and strength for climbing. Whilst yoga can certainly do this, strength and flexibility is just scratching the surface of what yoga can bring to your climbing performance.
The Obvious Yoga-Climbing Connection
The connection between yoga and climbing is both pretty obvious and also subtle. The obvious connections are what we experience physically and mentally. Yoga will give you greater flexibility and coordination and make climbing specific movement much easier. This includes better balance, more explosive power, and more precise footwork. Yoga also teaches you to move with the breath, keeping your movement efficient and controlled and the mind focused. You can use strong yoga sequences to boost your training regime or you can use restorative sequences to recover faster.
But the connection between yoga and climbing goes deeper than this.
The Subtle Yoga-Climbing Connection
I have been practicing yoga and climbing for about a decade now, and they’re both a big part of my life. I used to think that these two passions of mine were distinctly separate––climbing is climbing, and yoga is yoga––and I treated them as such. Never would I have thought that my yoga practice was influencing my climbing and vice versa. No, my yoga practice was for improving yoga, and my climbing training was for improving my climbing. Full stop.
Wow, was I wrong.
I have come to realise over the last few years that climbing is yoga and yoga is climbing.
And, if you’ve ever participated in my climbing-yoga courses, this is a message I make loud and clear. Yes, climbing is obviously about specific movement on rock/plastic and yoga movement is about different asanas on your yoga mat. But, when you move away from the physicality of it all and come back to the true meaning of yoga, the synergy between climbing and yoga becomes clear.
Yoga is about bringing all of your attention to your practice, moving your awareness inward to develop a deep connection with yourself. This is what we are ultimately trying to achieve in our yoga practice. Whether its through a vinyasa practice (moving with the breath) or fine tuning our alignment, etc, we are creating a deep level of awareness of our practice: how our thoughts, emotions, body, breath, energy, are constantly relating to each other and how this influences our practice. This awareness takes us inwards to ultimately strengthen the connection we have with ourselves.
Climbing also requires a great deal of attention. To not pay attention to yourself while you’re climbing could have seriously risky consequences. To advance your climbing requires awareness of your movement, your body positioning and alignment, your thoughts, your breath, etc (sound familiar?). This too takes your attention inwards and allows you to connect with yourself.
I have explained this relationship in more detail in this article I wrote an article for SA Mountain magazine. Here you’ll also find a warm up sequence that you can use at the crag.
– Many thanks and enjoy the process