20 April 2012

Yoga for Climbing

Yoga is for girls, or so I passionately believed until I started doing it. It started when I got a bit further than I had hoped for on Whisky Galore at Brimham just after Christmas. The limiting factor for once wasn't power or lack of crimp but an inability to get my leg onto a high hold whilst I was in a wide bridge. A simple flexibility issue stopped me getting what would have been my first 7a, which was more than a tad gutting.

My wife has an iPod full of podcasts from yogadownload.com and one of them was a "hip opening flow".  So there I was Monday night laying on the mat stretching and breathing and getting in touch with myself whilst feeling like a metrosexual prat. First couple of times felt frankly daft and really hard work too. I had claimed to be doing yoga before but reckon I was just stretching my hamstrings out a bit. The difference with using the podcast was the length of time you had to hold the poses for and the amount of repetition, it took twenty minutes which seems no time at all, but its a long time to be stretched out I can assure you.

Anyway still  feeling a little stupid and seeing no benefit I was all set to abandon yoga and go for Hopi ear candles, Acupuncture or some other new-age hokum tat, but then afterwards. I felt great, super-relaxed and euphoric like the two beer joy you sometimes get after exercise and a trip to the pub. This was good news indeed and I reckon I had saved myself a fiver and a slightly sore head.

I have been "hip opening" for a couple of months now and I'm hooked on the feeling, better yet it seems to be working. At the wall on Wednesday I could rest in positions where previously I was pretty much at full power I seemed to be in balance where before I was falling. On the circuit board I could leave my feet on holds for longer when I was making a sideways move, which really helped save some gas. I also noticed the difference on a high rock over. When normally I would have tipped off backwards I could  transfer my weight over my toe and stand. On the Sunday I sorted out a traverse that had beat me for a year or so. The difference was being able to bridge wider and get more rubber on the rock. These gains almost feel like cheating as they seemed so much easier to come by compared to doing pull ups on a fingerboard.

I think my hip stiffness came from too much cycling and the onset off middle age. If you can identify areas you need to work on either from lack of training or as the result of other activity, perhaps yoga will help you too.  Yoga download is searchable by keyword and there is a huge bank of sessions there so you should find something to help. Seems to me if you are hoping to improve as a climber indefinitely by just getting stronger you might be missing a trick. Its about applying and directing the power as well as building it.


Here is another resource this time a video from YOGamazing on youtube of specific routine for climbers although I find videos hard to watch as I'm doing the yoga, try it might work for you.
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