Yoga for Climbers

Strength, balance, and flexibility are key components in both yoga and climbing. Whether you are a fan of indoor bouldering or breaking out the ropes for an outdoor climb, strategic yoga for climbers can target muscle groups, increase flexibility, and hone skills outside the climbing gym. Here are a few poses to get you started with yoga for climbers.

Yoga for Your Back

Climbers need strong back muscles to pull their bodies upwards and stabilize their core muscles. The latissimus dorsi, or wing-shaped muscles on the sides of your back body are among the most frequently used in climbing. To hone these muscles through yoga for your back, give these poses a try:

To Strengthen: Dolphin Plank Pose

Dolphin plank pose is a modified plank position that will help build your back and core muscles. Start lying on your stomach with knees and forearms on the ground. Then, push your lower body off the ground so only your toes and forearms are touching the ground. Keep your core and back muscles engaged so your body is straight and your spine does not curve. Hold until you feel the burn!

To Stretch: Cat-Cow

Cat-Cow pose is a great way to stretch various muscles in your back body. To take this shape, begin in a table top pose. On an inhale, arch your spine towards the sky into a “cat” pose and feel the stretch throughout your shoulders and spine. As you breathe out, curve your spine downward and open your chest into a “cow” pose.

Bonus: If you would like to build finger strength to enhance your grips when climbing, try cat cow pose on your fingertips instead of flat palms, ensuring your forearms are straight and strong.

Yoga Poses for Your Forearms and Triceps

The forearms and triceps are another highly targeted muscle group in climbing. To build this muscle group and stretch it out for optimal flexibility, incorporate these poses into your climbing training:

To Strengthen: Hindu Push-ups

To do Hindu pushups, begin in downward dog. Shift your body forward into a plank position, and lower your upper body towards the ground into a Four-Limbed Staff Pose, or the “down” phase of a typical pushup. Then, push your body up into upward dog. Finally, shift your hips up and back, bringing your body back into downward dog, and repeat. You can also modify this pose by putting your knees on the ground after your plank pose and before lowering into Four-Limbed Staff Pose for a less intense push-up.

To Stretch: Standing Back Bend

To stretch out after your Hindu push-ups, try a standing backbend. To do this pose, start in mountain pose. Then, reach your arms up over your head, grasp your right hand with your left, and gently stretch your body backward to open your heart and chest.

Yoga Poses to Strengthen Calves and Lower Body

Strengthening your calves and lower body muscles is key to improving your climbing. Try some of these poses to get started:

To Strengthen: Chair Pose

Chair pose can give you the burn of a squat while also honing your balance and breathing. First, take mountain pose with your arms raised over your head. Then, sink down into your base so your thighs make a 45-degree angle with the floor. To deepen the exercise, shift forward onto your toes and raise your heels off the ground. You’ll end up in a chair pose calve raise. This exercise is optimal training for climbers because it hones calf strength while also working on balance.

To Stretch: Downward Dog

Downward dog will give you an optimal stretch throughout your back body. Begin in a tabletop position, then roll back onto the balls of your feet, push your hips up and back, and straighten your legs. Feel the stretch throughout your legs and back body.

Megan Herndon

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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