This week, I spent some time in Colorado learning how to rock climb. Before this, I had climbed a teensy tiny bit outdoors and in the climbing gym, but not much aside from that so I really cherished this climbing experience. There are some incredible rock climbers to learn from there.
I learned the foundations of climbing in the beautiful granite mountains around Boulder, CO and they did not disappoint. I have to say though that looking up at the mountain is a lot easier than looking down. Haha. Rock climbing is really humbling. The biggest thing for me is trusting the person/people you are with that they will support you as you go up and come down—their support is literally your life line.
My heart didn’t stop beating hard every day that we climbed, but that was a good thing for me. After the last climb we did, I had total cotton mouth, which was primarily from a mixture of a full body workout and my heart beating so fast from adrenaline. I have wanted to experience doing activities that are out of my comfort zone for a while and this definitely fit the bill. It was great.
I feel like climbing is as much of a physical sport as it is a mental sport. You really have to learn how to control your mind and breathe when you are up there to minimize your tunnel vision (which tends to happen when you are scared) so you can find the right holds. Although yoga does not have the adrenaline element that rock climbing tends to bring, I see similarities between yoga and climbing.
Yoga is essentially defined as a “joining of mind and body”. This mind-body connection is ever present in yoga and climbing. In yoga, we calm our minds and connect with our breath as we find balance in a pose (asana). That takes mental strength to free the mind of distracting thoughts so we can hold the asana and achieve that yogic meditative state.
In climbing, these same principles can be used. If we see a hold on the mountain that we can balance on, however small it might be, it’s essential to connect with the power of our breath to calm our minds so we can activate our bodies upwards. That takes physical and mental strength. Further, the hip flexibility that we gain through yoga and the muscles that we use to keep balance in yoga asanas can be utilized in climbing, as well—it’s muscle memory.
As I continue with my new climbing journey, I will write more about how yoga and climbing intertwine with one another and how different asanas can benefit climbing performance. So if you are interested, stay tuned. Thank you for reading =)