Yoga & Rock Climbing

Yoga Poses for Rock Climbers

After returning to the climbing gym a few times, I’ve discovered that I no longer experience what’s know as “Elvis Leg”–that uncontrollable shaking that sometimes happens to one or both of your legs from exhaustion.

I’m convinced that yoga has improved my leg strength and endurance, allowing me to climb longer and with greater power. There are some poses in particular that can help build the relevant leg strength. I’ll just list them here today, with the goal of eventually constructing a fun sequence for people to practice at home. (Of course, this sequence is also good for yogis who don’t rock climb.)

Before I list the poses, I need to mention two things. In order for these poses to build strength you need to (1) really do them, and (2) hold them for much longer than just a few breaths. To really do a pose, you need to engage your muscles, not just hang out in the posture. It’s useful to remember that many yoga poses are isometric (as opposed to isotonic) exercises. That means the muscles are engaged–i.e. contracted–not relaxed. While I’m on the topic, I should also mention that most yoga poses are not, contrary to popular minconception, mere “stretching,” which is usually entirely passive and involves no muscle contraction. It can take years to figure out how to “work the pose” in yoga, because almost all the muscular engagement has to be initiated by the practitioner herself, not with the prompting of, say, weights or machines.

Warrior I

Warrior II

Chair Pose

Crescent Warrior

Warrior III

Half-Moon Pose

Extended Side Angle

Standing Splits

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