CLIMBING HIGH…YOGA FOR CLIMBERS!
The are so many ‘Yoga for Sport’ ideas out there that are just awesome! Whether it’s a class tailored for runners, skiers, rugby or football you can find a practice that suits.
We are a family of climbers and skiers/snowboarders, so as we’re approaching a trip at home or abroad we tend to change up our practice a little to prepare our bodies with a little more focus. Our yoga poses for climbing are super simple and we add them to our regular practice along with some viloma pranayama (breathing) practice. More on this later!
Climbing is an activity that requires flexibility, coordination, strength, focus and spatial awareness; all of which can be achieved in a well-rounded yoga class. We have selected just 5 of our top poses here to add to your time on the mat…
1. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
This pose is great for stretching into the upper back and shoulders whilst increasing the rotational range of motion in the thoracic spine. Depending on the placement of the supporting arm you can add a little shoulder/chest opening or a side stretch (see image). Make the pose your own!
2. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
This pose can be active or passive depending on your needs; I personally love to take a gentle version of this adding a bit of movement to it to loosen up before I climb. If I’m already warm a deeper stretch into the inner thighs and hips is blissful and can help prep me for harder climbs or a stronger practice.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
An all-round great pose for climbing, this movement starts to warm into the wrists (without too much pressure), shoulders, chest, upper back and hamstrings. Also the ankles start to dorsi-flex (depending on hamstring flexibility) which can be a good thing when manoeuvring your feet into awkward foot holds. Take a while in this pose to move around, transferring the focus to different parts of the pose (wrists, shoulders, legs) to get not only a great warm up but start to build a little strength and generate some heat.
4. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
One of my favourite postures and a way to build strength through the quads and glutes; not only does this pose create some fire and help to firm up the butt cheeks 😉, with a bit of knowledge we can diversify for a different focus. For example, we can work through lifting and lowering the heels for ankle flexibility, strength and balance; we can work through shallow or deeper positions to increase power and strength throughout the length of the muscles; we can even play with arm positions and twists.
5. Cow Face/Eagle Pose Crossover (Gomukhasana/Garudasana)
A great mix ‘n’ match pose working to improve flexibility in the outer hips and mobility around the hip joint generally. Adding in eagle arms is a bit of change I know but gives a deep stretch to the upper back (traps and erector spinae muscles) a much needed area after a good bouldering session.
Let us know if you get around to adding these poses into your practice and/or comment below with any other ideas you have for a Yoga for Climbers session.
Now onto breathing…I mentioned this earlier, Viloma Breath!
To improve your climbing, especially as you progress, breath work becomes vital. It’s a way to increase focus, calm the body and release tension. The last thing you need when you’re 3000m off the ground is to exhaust yourself simply because you’re not breathing properly (or worse still develop a panic attack that gives you ‘jelly-legs’) so here’s our suggestion…
1. Lie on the mat and allow the body to rest (we like to rest the hands on the belly here as a focus)
2. Notice your breathing and allow it to become a little deeper on the next few rounds
3. On the next inhalation, breathe in for a count of 3 and then hold the breath for 3, inhale again and hold again. Continue this way until your lungs are full.
4. As you exhale do so in the same way; exhale for 3, hold for 3 and repeat until your lungs are empty.
5. This is one round. Continue this for 3-5 minutes and then take rest.
We use this breath for a myriad of reasons; calming the body and mind before a meeting, preparing for savasana or simply before bed! It’s a great focus enhancing breath and eases the nervous system. You can thank us later…
If you found that worked for you why not check out How to Breathe?...A yoga essential!
If you’re looking for a guided practice that’s a little longer check out this 30 minute practice specifically for climbers
As a bonus (and because we love her a little) why not head over to Instagram and follow Shauna Coxsey for climbing inspo!