Yoga for Climbers

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If you’ve been around many climbers, then you have almost certainly heard at least one of them mention something about yoga. Yoga has not only grown in popularity in recent years with the general public, but it has also skyrocketed in popularity in climbing communities. Many climbing gyms will offer yoga classes as part of your membership, and many climbers swear by the benefits of yoga, but is it all worth the hype?

Why Do Yoga for Climbers?Why Do Yoga for Climbers?

 

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Yoga is known to have a diverse array of benefits, depending on how frequently you practice, what type of yoga you practice, and many other factors. Yoga is a generic term that describes a variety of different types of meditative movements that push your body and mind. Yoga is often used to help reconnect the body with the mind and can even be used to help treat things like anxiety and depression.

Since yoga has so many benefits, it can’t be a bad thing to add to your climbing routine. Yoga poses and moves are a great way to create a good warm-up and cool-down routine for yourself. We’ve talked about developing a good routine for both of these in other articles, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to take care of your body as a climber. Rock climbing is hard on your body, so taking time to take care of your body is essential.

Does Yoga Help with Climbing?

Does Yoga Help with Climbing?

 

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Yoga can totally help you up your climbing game! Many rock climbers swear by the calming and focusing aspects of yoga, as well as the huge amount of body control required to practice yoga. All of these aspects translate directly to the wall, making yoga a great way to train for climbing.

Rock climbing is one of those sports that not only works your body but is also super mentally taxing, so it is important to remember to train not only your body but also your mind for climbing. Yoga is a great tool to add to your training toolbox to help with this. It requires great focus on your body movements and your breathing, even though some pretty challenging moves, making yoga an amazing way to train for climbing without needing a wall or a gym.

Yoga can also help get you in shape and can help you stay in shape. Yoga is great for keeping a lean body, which can help with climbing since while being strong is helpful, having massive amounts of extra muscle-weight to haul up the wall is not. Yoga requires an immense amount of body tension, which is another aspect that translates super well to rock climbing.

Yoga and climbing go hand-in-hand so well that many rock climbing gyms even offer yoga classes specifically tailored to rock climbers. These yoga for climbers classes are typically an hour-long mix of physically demanding poses and deep stretches to help you recover from your last climbing project.

 

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There are even books out there about yoga for climbers, with the most notable being called “Yoga for Climbers: How to stretch, strengthen, and climb higher.” Investing in a book like this one can be a great way to add yoga to your climbing training routine.

Which Yoga is Best for Strength?

Which Yoga is Best for Strength?

There are so many different types of yoga out there that it can be a little overwhelming for a beginner. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all yoga types out there since yoga is an ancient practice and has countless different styles that have been developed and categorized over time, but these are a few of the main general categories and how they can fit into your rock climbing and yoga practice.

Hatha

Hatha yoga, or a similar style such as restorative yoga, is best for stretching. This is something that can be incorporated into a warm-up or cool-down routine since hatha yoga is more about holding poses for a longer amount of time. There is minimal, if any, flow between poses, making it super adjustable to the situation that you want to use it for. Since you hold poses for longer, this can also be a great style of yoga for balance and flexibility.

Vinyasa

Vinyasa yoga is a flow-based yoga. It pairs each movement with a breath, so this is a great practice if you are looking to work on your breath control and adding in a meditative practice. This is a great style of yoga to take a class in, since it can be a little overwhelming to remember all the sequences and how they flow when you are first starting out, so taking a Vinyasa yoga class once or even twice a week can be a great way to get more comfortable with the practice.

Power

Power yoga is similar to Vinyasa yoga but tends to feature more athletic-based movements, thus giving this practice its name of power yoga. This is the yoga that is the most likely to help you develop strength, although it may not do so in the most conventional way of thinking about strength.

We, as climbers, tend to think about strength as having large muscles that will help you get up the wall, and while this is accurate, there is also a way of being strong that is much less obvious. This would be being strong in your core and balance, or developing the strength in your ligaments and tendons. This is a great way to help minimize injuries and allow you to understand your body movement better. This is where power yoga can be really helpful.

Gym vs. Yoga: Which is Better for Climbing?

Gym vs. Yoga: Which is Better for Climbing?

This is a highly debated and contested question with no set answer. The best answer is that neither is inherently better than the other for rock climbing. Since rock climbing is a sport that requires physical strength, body control, and problem-solving abilities, it is able to walk a line that many sports are unable to. Climbing engages every aspect of your body and mind, so training one over the other will only lead to an unbalanced climber.

 

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What we mean by an unbalanced climber isn’t someone who falls over easily, but someone who can only do one thing, or one style of climbing. To be a good, well-rounded climber, you must have good strength, good body control, and good problem-solving skills. Being able to climb a variety of styles of route is the mark of a good climber, and it also gives you the ability to climb in more places.

Some people find that yoga is more beneficial for them than training in the gym. This might be the case with people who find it easy to stay in shape but may not find the mental aspects of climbing that simple. These people may find that alternating between more intense, strength-building yoga workouts and calmer, more meditative yoga workouts works well for them.

Other people find that training in the gym is more beneficial for them. This might be the case with people who overlook the benefit of a meditative routine or find that the gym is a meditative routine for them. Some people find their gym routine to be a meditative practice that helps them improve their body control and mental focus.

This all goes to show that there is no one answer to this question. Climbing is as individual as the people who practice it, so there is no one right answer to how to train for it. We recommend a mixture of strength training and yoga or some other meditative practice since a combination is usually what works best for most climbers.

How Often Should Climbers Practice Yoga?

How Often Should Climbers Practice Yoga?

This depends on how you’re planning on integrating yoga into your climbing practice. If you plan on using a few yoga moves or a simple yoga sequence as part of your warm-up or cool-down routine, you will likely be doing yoga every time you climb. This obviously isn’t a full yoga practice, so it serves a different purpose of either warming up your muscles or helping to cool them down.

If you plan to use yoga for cross-training for rock climbing, it’s a totally different story. Yoga can be used once a week up to a few times a week, depending on your level of commitment to a training schedule and what works with your life. Many climbers like to take a guided yoga class once or maybe twice a week, so they get in a good practice and have an expert guiding them.

5 Best Yoga Poses for Climbers

5 Best Yoga Poses for Climbers

Cat/Cow Pose

 

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This series of two poses is a great way to slowly warm-up your back and spine. The gentle movements won’t push your body too fast, while still getting in some nice movement to start off your climbing session. The moves start in a tabletop pose with a flat back and then rotates between an arched back and downturned head (cat pose) and an upturned head and a bowed down back (cow pose). Gently rotate between the two poses for a few minutes as part of a great warm-up or cool-down.

Butterfly Pose

 

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This is one of the most commonly known yoga poses, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Sit in a comfortable spot and pull the soles of your feet together in front of you, so your knees push out to the sides. Many people will try to pull their feet as close to their torso as possible, but the best benefit will be if you put your feet at a comfortable distance away from your body and, keeping a flat back, bend over your legs.

This stretch is a great way to work on opening up your hips and to help stretch out your hamstrings. Many climbers find this nice to include in their cool-down routine since it should be done once your muscles are already warmed up. This is a great all-around rock climbing stretch.

Boat Pose

 

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Boat pose is all about balance and body control, making it a great pose to include in your next climbing focused yoga practice. To do the pose, sit on the ground with your legs in front of you and your knees bent up at about a 45-degree angle. Shift your weight back and lift your feet up off the floor. Engage your core to keep stable and extend your arms straight in front of you in the air.

This pose is great to include in a workout, since it is all about body control and core strength, both of which are super important to climbing. Maybe try holding the pose for a minute or two and slowly increase the amount of time that you’re holding it for.

Downward Facing Dog Pose

 

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This is quite possibly the most famous yoga pose out there, but if you’re unfamiliar with it, we’ll break it down for you. With your hands and feet on the ground, each about shoulder-width apart, move them to a comfortable distance apart from each other to make your body create a triangle shape with the ground as the third side. This pose is a great stretch for the soles of your feet and for your calves.

Garland Pose

 

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This is a pose that you might not be as familiar with, but is a great stretch for your groin, your wrists, fingers, and lower arms, and can help you improve your ankle strength. Start standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your hands pressed, palms together, at your heart. Slowly lower down into a deep squat and place your elbows on the inside of your knees. This is a great all-around stretch.

By pushing the palms of your hands together, you’re able to get in a good finger stretch, wrist stretch, and forearm stretch. Stretching your forearms after a long day of climbing is a great way to minimize the pumped feeling you might feel that evening or even the next day.

3 Big Benefits of Yoga for Climbing

3 Big Benefits of Yoga for Climbing

Yoga has a variety of benefits, but a few main ones that can help with climbing. While yoga can improve your climbing ability, it isn’t a fix-all for any challenge you might be having in climbing. Training for climbing is individual to each person, and while yoga is often a valuable piece of that puzzle, it is not the only part.

Balance

Balance is a key feature of both climbing and yoga. A good sense of balance can help with all sorts of climbs, and yoga is a great way to improve your balance. Balance is obviously helpful with slab climbs with small footholds, but balance is about core strength and stability, so great balance can help with vertical or overhanging climbs too.

Flexibility

Flexibility is often something associated with people who practice yoga frequently, but it can also be super helpful for climbers. Flexibility is not just about doing the splits, but is about keeping your ligaments and tendons loose, so as to minimize your risk of injury. It is worth noting, though, that some aspect of flexibility is genetically determined, so don’t push your body farther than it is willing to comfortably go.

Breathing

One of the parts of yoga that is often overlooked is its focus on breathing. Learning to control your breathing through a practice like yoga or meditation can be super helpful for a variety of physical activities, including climbing. Although this isn’t the first thing that people often think of when they think of yoga and climbing, it is one of the best benefits out there.

Climbing requires immense amounts of focus and determination, even through physical challenges. Being able to control your breathing during often physically stressful times can help you execute climbing moves with the most precision and technique. Incorporating a few yoga moves and breathing exercises into your warm-up or cool-down routine for climbing can be really beneficial.

Wrapping Things Up: Yoga for Climbers

Hopefully, this has given you an insight into why so many climbers swear by yoga. The ancient practice really does have some amazing mental and physical benefits to it, so if you are looking to up your climbing game, you might want to think about adding some yoga into your existing warm-up or cool-down routine or even taking a few classes. Who knows, you might fall in love with the combination of yoga and climbing and follow in the footsteps of so many great climbers before you.

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