If You Are A Climber, You Should Be Doing Yoga

Open those hips and get those eye level foot holds!

By: Jessica Foiles + Save to a List

I've had an on again/off again relationship with yoga for the last few years. I would bumble through a YouTube yoga video in my living room until getting distracted by my dog licking my face while in down dog. It wasn't until this winter that I actually started regularly doing yoga at home and at different studios in the area. I could sit here and write for days about why I think everyone alive should be showing up to their mat every day, but I'll just stick to writing about yoga for climbers. If you really sit down and think about it, climbing and yoga have many similarities. I'll break things down below and hopefully by the end of this article those of you not already practicing yoga are running out to buy a yoga mat and getting your yogi breath on!

Speaking of breath...

1. Breathing

Yoga is all about your breath. Ask any yogi the first thing to hone in on if you're new to yoga and I'll bet money that their answer will always be your breathing. It is so easy to hold your breath while in a sketchy hold or before making a big move, but learning to coordinate your breath with your moves will not only keep oxygen going to your muscles, but will also keep you focused. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Focus

Yoga is all about letting go of your ego and being aware of your body at the present moment. It's focusing on holding your body in a pose, focusing on the now. While climbing, I try to only focus on the things that matter at that time. I'm focused on every hand hold, every loose rock, my breathing, all while ignoring that my shoes are completely killing my little toe, the drops of sweat forming on my forehead and the fact that I'm 100 ft. off the ground. The focus that it takes for me to hold crow pose is the same focus I have that gets me to the top of every rock face. 

Photo: Lindsay Daniels

3. Flexibility and strength

My husband and I always laugh when we climb together because he has WAY more upper body and hand strength than I do (I'm working on that) and can muscle his way through a tough problem, whereas I can throw my leg over my head to get to a decent foothold (he's working on that) and get through the same problem in a totally different way. I always knew yoga made people crazy flexible, but it's the strength that has been mind blowing to me. Just when I don't think my body can getting any stronger, I am able to add a variation to a pose that takes it up another notch. I have found myself climbing routes in ways that I never thought I'd be able to do, and I have to thank my yoga practice for that. While you may not get your finger strength up yoga, I can promise you your forearms and shoulders will thank you. 

4. Core. Core. and Core.

Have you ever wondered how people posting yoga pics of themselves on Instagram are in these mind blowing inversions? While a lot of it has to do with arm strength, it's even more so about your core stability. Having a strong core will not only keep you feeling solid through your climb, but it also helps with your balance. Yoga is amazing for building a strong core and helping you power through a route, keeping your abdominals, back and pelvis muscles strong and solid.

Hopefully this will inspire at least one person to go out and get their yoga on. Find a yoga video online, pop into your local yoga studio, or just practice focusing on your breathing and see just how yoga will take your climbing to a whole new level!

Cover photo: Ross Kyker

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