I have always been a climber. From cabinets and couches to trees and rock faces, the higher the better. But it was always a game, something I did without thinking about it. After I moved to Colorado, I realized that lots of people here consider what I’ve always played with a sport. Bouldering. Aka crazy people (my kind of people) climbing things without ropes. I am all about it.
I kept telling myself that I’d give bouldering (and rock climbing with ropes) a try, but just haven’t made the time to learn the art of the sport. However, I have a wonderful friend, Adrienne, the lovely face behind Alpen Glow Photography, (she shot these photos) who is also an avid climber and I plan on pestering her this spring and summer to show me the ropes- pun intended.
I know that Adrienne is going to kick my butt when the times comes, so I’ve decided to get my climbing rear in gear with some specifically geared yoga asana. So, without further ado: 5 Yoga Poses for Climbers. I teach from the Five Foundational Yoga Poses, so if you’re a newbie go ahead and take a peek at this post first!
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend)
This bound wide legged forward fold is wonderful for opening your shoulders and improving flexibility. Shoulder strength and the flexibility to grab onto the rock at interesting angles is crucial for climbing!
Take a comfortable wide-legged stance facing the long side of your mat. Slightly turn your feet in, engage your core, and gently rotate the thighs internally- pulling to the midline. Clasp your hands behind your back, fingers interlaced at the sacrum, and leading with the chest hinge at your hips. Keep your back flat and slowly let the crown of your head drift towards the earth, keeping weight in your heels. As you feel comfortable, lift your clasped hands off of your back as high as feels good to you, opening up the shoulders. Hold allowing gravity to do the work for you, and then back out as you came in.
Vajrasana (Diamond/Thunderbolt Pose)
Without dexterity in your feet, climbing can be a challenge. And post-climb your feet can get sore and tight. Diamond pose allows your body weight to stretch the soles of your feet, open the fascia and other tissues in your feet and ankles, and shifting your weight can make the pose accessible for everyone.
Starting in a kneeling position, shift your weight a bit forward until you can tuck all ten toes under your body, and then start to shift your weight back over your heels. The more weight you put on your heels, the more the fascia will start to open. But don’t overdo it! You don’t want to strain anything! Bring your hands to heart center and breathe deeply. Shift your weight back forward and untuck your toes.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Fish pose is wonderful for opening up and strengthening your chest. Plus, it is called a ‘heart opening’ pose- not a bad thing to add a bit of energy and bravery into your climb!
Start in Staff Pose. Lower down onto your back, and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Traditionally this pose is done with ‘Lotus’ legs but because that is an advanced hip opener we can practice with either our knees bend or legs fully extended on the floor. Using the strength of your legs, lift up your buttocks and slide your hands, palms down, under them. Your arms should be tucked as close as you can (or slightly under) your body as possible. With your next inhale, lift your torso up, press your forearms into the mat, and bend your elbows. Your arms should form a shelf for your torso. Open your chest by pressing your shoulder blades flat onto your back and allow your head to lower down to rest on a block or the floor. You can keep your knees bend or extend your legs long, flexing your feet towards your body. Breathe deeply.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
When you’re dangling off the side of a cliff face, balance is important. Half Moon pose is a great way to work on that balance without the ‘oh my goodness, I’m falling off the cliff’ stress!
Start in Warrior II pose. Straighten your front leg, leaving a slight micro bend in the knee to make sure you don’t hyperextend. Reach as far forward as you can with your front arm, and when you can’t reach any further, tip your torso so that the leading arm reaches down towards the earth. (Congrats, you’re in Extended Triangle Pose!) Next, shift your back foot about six inches forward, then shift the hand placed on the floor about a foot in front of your planted toes. Press your planted hand and foot into the floor, and inhale to lift the back leg, keeping your foot super engaged. Shift your torso so that you have an open chest facing the long side of your mat, and shift your hips so that they, along with your shoulders, stack on on top of each other. Your whole body should now be open towards the long side of your mat. Breathe deeply for a few counts and then lower your back leg down to the ground and come back up into Warrior II.
Supta Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Reclining Pigeon)
Reclining Pigeon is a great way to gently open your hips, and open hips, means a greater range of motion when it comes to finding footholds!
Starting in Downward Facing Dog, inhale your right foot up to the sky, hip creases facing towards the earth. Draw your knee into your nose and reach right knee up to right wrist. Begin to rotate your right ankle towards your left wrist, as your shin lowers to the ground. The angle of your leg underneath you will depend on the openness of your hips- stay where is comfortable for you! Start to sink into your hips, left leg is sent back and grows long behind you, top of the foot grounding into the ground. Hip creases stay facing forward. Lower until your hips don’t want to come any further down, take a deep inhale to grow length in your torso then fold forward either onto the ground or over a bolster snuggled into your hips, hands walking in front of your body. You can bring forearms to ground or reach your arms forward to come flat onto the earth. Breathe deeply into your hips, then draw left leg in, right knee back and send your hips skyward into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side.
Do you love to climb? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below! Or if you’d like to request a ‘yoga poses for’ post I’d love to work them into a post!
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