Yoga for climbers: “what’s the point?”

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“I’m not flexible enough for yoga” If I had a pound for every time I heard that I wouldn’t be driving round in a 15year old ford fiesta. Well to those people I say, “You don’t go to a French class if you already know French?” The point being, you come to a yoga class to get flexible, so you don’t have to already be flexible to go to one. But yoga is so much more that just flexibility.

A lot of people maybe don’t see the full benefits of yoga, or how it can benefit their climbing. After all, you could just spend that hour climbing and that would surely be more beneficial right? See, that’s where you would be mistaken, again, just like the flexibility thing…see what I did there.

Balance

At Boja our classes are all about bringing your body and mind back into balance. See you climbers get your exercise from climbing, and that climbing is very one sided, you all know the classic climbers hunchback for example, so our classes are about evening out those imbalances brought on by climbing, to make sure you can keep climbing injury free and till later in life.

Training

As well as targeting those imbalances brought on by climbing, yoga can be a way of training for climbing on the wall but off the wall. We all have times or period in our lives where we can’t get to the wall (such as right now in this tough situation we all find ourselves in) and having a floor based practice to get us through these times will help us not lose all our gains.

Warrior 2, one of the most common yoga postures, looks pretty familiar does it not? It’s often probably the single most common shape people make on the wall. By recreating climbing positions in yoga we can maintain strength, increase proprioception and develop more flexibility. In our Yoga for Climbers classes we work on balance to help people shift their weight over their center of gravity, we work on active flexibility in the hips to help people with those epic rockovers, and when we are feeling mean we’ll crack out the core exercises to set your abs on fire to help with those overhangs.

Body Awareness

Being able to know where and how your body moves through space is so essential in climbing. Ever been watching someone climb a route you’ve tried and can’t do, and then they just put their body in a certain position and make it look seamless? Yeah us too. Well, that person just has more body awareness of the different positions their body can get into to get to the next hold in the most efficient way.  Yoga is all about travelling through lots of different positions and questioning what feels good and how to make it better, harder or easier. This process of questioning and adjustment is exactly what we do on the wall and encourage it in all our classes. Just like any skill, if we practice this on the mat it will help on the wall too.

Breathing

The most natural thing we do. We don’t even have to think about it. It’s just automatic. Right? Then why is it so easy to lose control of our breath?

You’re on your project, you’re coming up the crux move and you really don’t wanna drop it, again. Your palms are getting sweatier and this is your last go before the sun does in.  It. Has. To. Go. This. Time.

It’s in these situations where your breathing needs to stay calm and regulated but often becomes labored and short. Oxygen is literally what is fueling your muscles at this point so holding your breath is like being on the motorway and suddenly running out of petrol. Keeping your breath under control will save you from fatigue at your most important moments and help you perform to your best, physically and mentally.

In yoga we practice inhale, then move into the posture on the exhale. And this is how you should be moving on the wall. Deep breath in, move on the exhale. This helps you keep pace and stay calm as well as regulating the fuel to your muscles. And by practicing it on the mat, it becomes more automatic on the wall.

Mental Gains

Most climbers come to yoga for the physical benefits, to get more flexible. But so many students report back to us after a few weeks or months and say how much they’ve noticed a change in their mental state. They feel less anxious and have a different perspective on life. And this where it hits us right in the feels. The mental gains that people don’t even realize they’ll get are the biggest benefit of all. That hour that people have taken for themselves, to reflect inwards, to discover more about themselves, to take the last 10mins to sit with their own thoughts has ended up impacting their lives as whole and are leading a happier life and, enjoying climbing more, climbing better, more efficiently and injury free.

 

Blog written by This is Boja 

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