Yoga for rock climbers
You take your harness off and wipe your chalk-covered hands over your pants. You've just spent a good couple of hours of rock climbing and the first thought that pops into your mind is, "Wow, I have got to do some hip openers!"
Your muscles are tight, your legs are shaking, your arms are sore — it’s time for some yoga! Yoga isn’t just a great way to get in touch with your body, to relax and meditate. Here are some great yoga poses that work well for rock climbers. They’ll keep you flexible, strong and agile and help you reach further and climb higher the next time you visit the wall.
Frog Pose (Bhekasana)
Now this is a strong pose which requires a slight backbend but it's great for developing flexibility in the quadriceps, chest muscles and especially the front of the hips. It can be quite a challenging pose to stay in (and get out of!) but if you breathe with your mouth closed and restrict air flow at the back of your throat slightly so you can hear your breathing, it will give you a point of focus and help you relax into the pose. If this is too strong for you, try the one-legged variation (Eka Pada Bhekasana). This is a great pose because it opens the hips up for those long reaches on the wall and increases flexibility. It's also good for stretching the arms and chest which will help with balance and grip while climbing.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
This is a variation of the One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) and is a serious hip opener. Because climbing is all about the strength in your legs, you are going to want a pretty intense stretch post-climb. It works the femur bone in the hip socket and also lengthens the psoas which is a hip flexor that connects the torso to the legs. If you spend too much time sitting down then beware as your psoas will shorten, so even more reason to do some yoga and some climbing. This is a great pose after a big afternoon of climbing when your legs are shaking and crying out for some relief.
Toe Stand (Padangusthasana)
Not only does this pose strengthen the joints in your body, including your knees and hips, it also helps with focus, balance and strength in the legs and the core. Core and leg strength are at the basis of rock climbing, so it is important to work on these areas to improve your strength and agility on the wall. Doing such an intense pose regularly will increase your focus too, which will also help you during those intense climbs. You'll be able to push yourself futher than you thought possible. This is a Bikram pose though, so you might have to sweat it out in the hot box for this one.
Full Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
Like most activities, it's really your core strength that matters and this pose is bound to switch those ab muscles on which are absolutely important during a climb. This one strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors and spine and also stimulates kidneys, thyroid, prostate glands and the intestines. It also improves digestion and relieves stress.
Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Great for balance and focus, this pose will keep your feet placement sharp and steady during your climbs. This pose strengthens the thighs, calves, ankles and spine and stretches the groin, inner thighs, chest and shoulders. Another great pose for focus and stability.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Another strong pose that stretches and strengthens the legs, ankles, groin, chest, lungs and shoulders. It also increases stamina, relieves backaches and stimulates the abdominal organs. A great pose for focus and strength and will be sure to not only keep you focused on the wall, but in daily life too.