Climbing is a tough activity that requires every ounce of strength from your entire body and all the will you can muster, sometimes more. This is why climbers need to focus on exercises that develop the entire body rather than isolation workouts. They also need to learn to keep their mind calm as one cannot afford to panic at higher altitudes.
Yoga makes for a perfect combination of mind-body conditioning. The asanas work on many major muscle groups at the same time and practicing yoga regularly also brings about mental balance. If you’re a climber and want to include yoga in your routine, here are 6 exercises to start with.
1. Mountain Pose
Stand with heels slightly apart, big toes touching. Balance your weight evenly by lifting and spreading your toes and rocking your body on your feet.
Lift your kneecaps, strengthen the inner arches of your feet, turn the upper thighs slightly inward, and draw your pubic bone and tailbone toward each other.
Lift your upper body without sticking your ribs out, stretch your shoulder blades back, and drop your shoulders.
Drop and straighten your arms, opening your palms in front of you. Grow tall through the crown of your head, chin parallel to the floor.
This pose promotes stillness, relaxed strength, and helps you feel rooted. Think of yourself as a mountain.
2. Eagle Pose
With knees slightly bent, lift your left foot and balance on your right. Reach up with your arms and sink into your hips to create a sense of the spine lengthening and straightening.
Cross your left thigh over the right, left toes pointed to the floor. Then, try to wrap the top of your left foot around the lower right calf. Hips face forward.
Cross your forearms, placing your right above left, and bend the elbows. Press the inside of your left hand against the lower part of the palm of your right hand.
Raise the arms and bend at the elbows so that the upper arms are parallel to the ground, fingers stretched upward.
This pose stretches latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and deltoid muscles. It makes your upper body limber which promotes faster recovery and strengthens your knees and ankles. It improves overall balance.
3. Warrior I
Reach your left leg back and bend your right knee directly over your right ankle.
Place your left foot flat at a 45-degree angle. Make sure your right ankle and foot are at a 90-degree angle (pointing forward), and that your right heel is aligned with your left heel.
Draw your right, outer hip back, and align your right thigh parallel to the ground. Lift your torso and arch your upper back slightly, while raising arms above head.
Point fingers up with palms facing together. Lift your ribcage away from the pelvis. Look forward, head in a neutral position. Repeat on the other side, right leg back.
This pose strengthens and stretches your quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors. It increases endurance in the legs and builds stronger hip flexors that enhance a climber’s ability to high-step. Stronger quads and hamstrings stabilize knees for stepping up.
4. Downward Dog
Drop to your hands and knees with knees directly below your hips. Spread your hands wide and slightly in front of your shoulders, with index fingers slightly turned out.
Lift your buttocks and slowly straighten your legs, without locking your knees. Stretch your heels down. It’s OK if your heels don’t touch the floor and if your legs remain slightly bent.
Press the bases of the index fingers firmly into the floor, and lift your inner arms. Pull your shoulder blades away from your ears, broadening the collarbone.
Do not allow your head to hang; keep it between your upper arms.
This pose strengthens and stretches shoulder muscles, strengthens latissimus dorsi, and stretches hamstrings, calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and helps prevent rotator cuff injuries.
5. Seated Twist
Sit evenly on your sit bones, and straighten your back. If your lower back is sagging, prop yourself up on a folded blanket.
Extend your legs in front of you without locking your knees. Bend your right knee, and place your right foot flat on the ground outside of your left knee. Bend your left leg, with ankle close to the right hip.
Lift your right arm and stretch the side of your body, while twisting your torso to the right. Place your right hand or fingers on the ground behind you.
Lift your left arm up and place the outside of your left elbow on the outside of your right knee to help maintain the twist. Move from the base of your spine as you twist.
Do not force the twist with the strength of your arms. Look over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
This pose stretches your back and strengthens the shoulder muscles. This helps in making fluid twisting movements while climbing. Also, relieves lower back pain caused by muscular tension.
6. Bridge Pose
Lie flat on your back, arms by your side. Bend your knees and bring your heels close to your buttocks. Lift your chest and raise your hips, keeping your thighs parallel to each other. Don’t clench your buttocks.
Press your feet into the ground, and draw your knees forward over your ankles as you lift your pelvis and lengthen your tailbone. Clasp your hands together under your back and stay high on your shoulders.
Lift your chest, chin away from the sternum, and push your head into the floor. Tuck your tailbone, while broadening back and shoulder blades. Firm your entire body. Roll the spine slowly down to finish pose.
This pose stretches and opens muscles in the chest, neck, and spine that climbers compress and contract through constant pulling. It also works on the butt muscles which helps in long leg moves, high-stepping, maintaining balance on small holds, or heel-hooking.