As promised, I’m going to start posting asana sequences that are designed specifically for rock climbers. These sequences will fall into one of three categories: (1) warm-up asana sequences to do just before climbing, (2) stretching/cool-down asana sequences to do just after climbing, and (3) asana sequences to incorporate into your yoga practice to build a strong foundation for rock climbing.
This time around, I’m going to describe a strength-building asana sequence that might be good to work into your self-practice, if you have one. And even if you don’t have a self-practice, you still might try to do this sequence on your own, with 10 minutes or so of warm-up beforehand of course (5 Surya A’s and 5 Surya B’s should be an adequate warm-up).
This sequence is focused primarily on building strength in the thighs, glutes, and hips. Why do you need strong legs to climb? Well, despite what it might look like, rock climbing is not all about upper body strength. In fact, it is crucial to employ the legs as much as possible when climbing so as to avoid fatigue. Also, there are many moves in rock climbing that can only be done with the legs, and if you don’t have the strength to powerfully and gracefully maneuver your body with your legs, you may find yourself getting stuck in places where you might otherwise have some options.
Strength-Building Asana Sequence for Climbers:
1) Down Dog
2) Warrior I — press the palms together and take the gaze upwards 5 breaths.
3) Release the arms behind the back, interlace the fingers, lean back, and touch the hands to the back thigh. Lower body remains in Warrior I position here. 5 breaths.
4) Keep the arms and legs as they are, just lean foward and extend the heart out over the front knee. 5 breaths.
5. Keep the legs as they are, release the arms, and then extend the arms forward as if you are reaching out to someone. 5 breaths.
6. Lean into the front leg and slowly stand up right into Warrior III. 10 breaths. Remember to keep this pose active! Extend back through the heel; extend forward through the finger tips. Keep raising that back leg and don’t let anything sag.
7. “Airplane” the arms to the side, and then “barrel roll” into Half-Moon Pose. 10 deep Ujjayi breaths. You may even try to take the bottom hand off the ground and extend that arm forward.
8. Very slowly, lower back into Extended Side-Angle Stretch. The landing here should be light and controlled. Hold Side-Angle for 10 breaths. Again, keep this pose super active. Extend forward through the top arm, and cut the back foot sharply into the mat. Imagine a line of energy extending from the back heel all the way throught he tips of the forward fingers.
9. Now here comes the fun part. 5 rounds of Extended Side-Angle Stretch into Half-Moon, and back again, holding each pose for 2 deep breaths. Remember to move between the poses with lightness and control.
11. Bring the hands to the floor and come into Standing Split. Hold for 10 breaths. Try to take both hands to the ankle so that your leg is doing all the work in holding you up.
12. Vinyasa. Repeat on the other side.
Note: Pictures for all the asanas in the sequence are coming soon, and I plan to put up a video demonstrating the whole thing.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified yoga instructor, and the ideas and opinions expressed here are not intended to be formal instruction on yoga poses. If you plan to start up a yoga practice, or if you have one and plan to do any of the yoga poses described in this blog, please seek out an experienced, living, breathing yoga teacher to guide you with hands-on instruction.