Practicing yoga in the outdoors, instead of in a climate-controlled studio, is a perfect way to enliven your practice, says Adi Carter, an avid rock climber, yoga teacher, and trip leader. "When you're climbing, you feel like you're doing vertical yoga poses," Carter says.
Yoga students and climbers alike are discovering the connections between the two activities at climbing-plus-yoga retreats and workshops around the country. "Like yoga, climbing requires you to step out of your comfort zone," says Olivia Hsu, a yoga teacher and climbing instructor who leads yoga classes on climbing trips for cancer survivors in Boulder, Colorado. New climbers, she says, often freeze up when they climb above 20 or 30 feet, until they recognize they're in control. "Suddenly, you go from feeling 'I can't do this' to realizing 'I can do this!' " Hsu says. "You get this sense of ownership about what you can do. And that translates to your yoga practice, as well."
Climbing also draws on the strengths you cultivate on the mat. Most climbing and yoga trips offer pre- and post-climb yoga sessions that emphasize chest- and hip-openers and building upper-body strength. But the most important crossover between the two skills, says Hsu, is mental focus: "When you're concentrating in yoga, there's this Zen point where it becomes effortless. It's the same in climbing. Your mind and body are working in unison."
More on Yoga and Climbing:
On Top of the World
Call of the Wild
Playing the Edge
Climb Ev'ry Mountain