Yoga for Athletes

6 Poses to Make You a Rock Climbing Star

Climbing and yoga both reinforce the mind-body connection. Here, the best poses to get your climb on.

Rock climbing and yoga reinforce the mind-body connection through similar types of movement. Here, the best poses to get your climb on.

If you’re an advanced or novice climber, this sequence from Ontario teacher Lydia Zamorano is for you.

The Benefit: These poses will facilitate a strong internal core, supple hips, a balanced shoulder girdle, relaxed feet, and a sense of ease. Practice it at least three times a week, before or after a climb.

The Warm-Up: Do 2-5 Sun Salutations, finishing in Downward-Facing Dog.

Plank Pose

Good for: strengthening your core

From Down Dog, shift your weight forward to Plank Pose. Maintain a long line through your ankles to your skull. Push into the floor evenly through each limb. Find a neutral pelvis. Once stable, subtly lengthen your spine, and “hug” or squeeze your front hipbones together. This will tone your transverse abdominal wall and support your lumbar spine. Stay here for 5 long breaths, then return to Down Dog.

Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Good for: toning your arms and shoulders

From Down Dog, slide your right hand a few inches to the left, toward your midline. Turn onto the outside edge of your right foot, and stack your ankles. Roll your hips open to the left. Imagine the top hip and ribs being pulled slightly upward. Open your left arm toward the sky. To wake up your external obliques and serratus muscles, energetically wrap your right rib cage toward your left hip, and vice versa. Keep your shoulder blades and collarbones wide. Stay for 5 breaths, then move back through Plank and into Down Dog. Do the other side.

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Good for: stretching the hamstrings

Stand lengthwise on your mat with your feet wide apart. Turn your big toes in slightly and internally rotate the thighs. Interlock your fingers behind you at your sacrum. Press evenly into the four corners of your feet, fold forward at your hips, and take your arms overhead and toward the floor. Experiment with turning your palms toward your back or turning them out and externally rotating the shoulders. This posture opens up a tight back body. Stay for 5 breaths. Come up to standing and bring your feet together.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Good for: finding your center and building balance

From Tadasana, shift your weight onto your left leg and lift the right foot, placing the sole on the inner left thigh or calf. (Don’t place on your knee.) Gently push your right foot and left leg into one another to find your centerline. Root down into the Earth just like a tree to find balance. Stay for 5 deep breaths. Release, and repeat on the other side.

One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Good for: opening outer hips and thighs

From Down Dog, lift your left leg into the air. Bring your left knee down and toward your left wrist, forming an angle through your left shin and thighbone. Propping yourself up on your fingertips, lift your hips then set them down evenly. Untuck your left toes so the tops of the feet press into the mat. Come down to your elbows or lower, and relax into the fold. Breathe into the big muscles of your left hip. Stay for at least 1 minute and up to 5. To release, roll to the left side, then move back into Down Dog and do the pose on the other side.

Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)

Good for: stretching the feet

Climbers’ feet get tight from using their toes to climb, and from wearing specialized footwear. This pose counters that by opening tight plantar fascia and the connective tissue and muscles in the ankles and calves. From a kneeling position, tuck your toes under (even that pinky toe), and sit back on your heels. Ouch, right? Relax your weight down gradually (go slow!) for 5 breaths. If this feels like too much, alternate with leaning forward and placing your hands on the floor to take some weight off the toes. Work up to holding the pose for 3 minutes daily.