7 great yoga moves for climbers
© Katarna Mittkov; Getty
Try a few of these out and you'll get enough strength, flexibility and stability to increase your climbing ability.
You might not think that a downdog would have much relevance to your mad Spider-Man skills on a bouldering wall, but in actual fact yoga is really beneficial for climbers.
“Yoga is a tool that teaches you all-over strength, flexibility, core stability and control of your breathing, all of which can help you focus on a hard climb," says Ness at Ness Yoga, who runs a specific Yoga For Climbers class in Bristol, England.
So limber up, as here come seven great moves for any climber.
1. Mountain pose
“Stand with your feet firmly on the floor, relax the toes, but feel the whole base of your feet pressing down into the floor," says Ness. "From here, start to breathe in and lift the spine while still pressing your feet down. Lift the abdomen back, move the shoulders down your back, breathe relaxed while holding this posture."
Simple though it may appear, the ol’ mountain pose is very effective for correcting those rounded shoulders and tight hips that the office chair bestows on us. “This alone can help any climber in easing tension,” says Ness.
2. Warrior II pose
“Stand one foot forwards and one foot back so you can lunge forwards, lining up your front knee over your ankle. Lift your arms so they are in line with your shoulders. Balance your weight evenly through your front and back foot."
Legs, hips, shoulders and back – prepare for these areas to be stretched, making them supple enough to take on any climbing challenge.
3. Chair pose
“With feet firmly on the floor, bend your knees so they track above your toes, sit your bum back (like you are about to sit into a chair) keep your back flat and engage your core lightly, lift your arms (keep your elbows slightly bent if the shoulders are restricted) slide your shoulders down your back as you lift up through the finger tips."
This pose will help strengthen climbers’ inner thighs, ankles and feet, says Ness, “while stretching your spine, back and lats for freedom of movement.”
“Place your hands firmly on the floor, relax the knuckles and spread your fingers apart. Lift your bum up towards the sky, press through the arms to shift your weight up and then back, lower your heels towards the ground, straightening the legs but keeping a small bend in the knees."
This one pose will stretch and strengthen the whole body simultaneously while stabilising joints – and the static stretch will boost stamina.
5. Child’s pose
“Move onto your shins and rest your forehead to the floor, sit your hips back towards your feet. Relax and rest your whole body towards the floor. Let your body weight apply compression to relax and release the muscle."
Ness says this pose "soothes the nervous system, stretches the back, spine and shoulders and relaxes the muscles in the neck."
6. Four count breath
"This is a simple breathing exercise of breathing in for four seconds, pausing for one second, then breathing out for four seconds," says Ness.
If you weren’t already relaxed from the child’s pose, this breathing exercise will soothe the nervous system and relax your body and mind, sharpening your focus – a technique you’ll need to arm yourself with for optimal climbing performance.
7. Acro yoga
“Having a play with balance and coordination with a partner can keep the motivation high and help with creating a good sense of trust between climbing partners."
“Partner yoga or acro yoga can teach us climbers balance, coordination and trust, with an assisted stretch in between,” says Ness.