Alternative forms of training

The positive effects of Ashtanga Yoga on climbing.

Ashtanga (Vinyasa) Yoga is the most sophisticated Hatha Yoga system, and is the origin of all dynamic Yoga styles. It is the perfect addition for climbing. Because of the specific improvement of breathing, agility and regeneration, you can increase your physical and mental performance significantly while climbing.

Interplay between breathing, rhythm and flow of movement

When climbing at the personal upper limit, it is important to focus on a conscious and permanant breathing, so that the forearms don’t get pumped too early. This is a major problem while climbing, where usually the movement is in the foreground. Pranayama (control of breathing) and Asana (posture) are the two major practices of Ashtanga Yoga. Basically it is a matter of synchronizing the movement sequences in rhythm with the breathing to achieve a dynamic flow of movement. If you can control that, it’s the next step is to deal with the respective postures in extreme positions and to feel as comfortable as possible. Therefor a good portion of concentration and body control is absolutely necessary.

» To synchronize the rhythm of breathing with the movement is one of the great mysteries in both Ashtanga Yoga and climbing. Holding your breath impairs the oxygen supply to the muscles, pressing breathing prevents the flow. Wheeze or groans should make it clear that there isn’thing to win while climbing or practicing Yoga. In fact it is all about the beauty of the movement in your chosen environment.

Buddha at the Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya, Thailand

Mobility and regeneration

To be able to climb as free of injurys as possible for many years, it is important to prevent one-sided loads and to strengthen the entire muscles. The body finally should be brought into harmony and smoothness, so that it can move elegantly. Ashtanga Yoga is very useful here. As a compensation for climbing, the claimed muscle groups are stretched and the neglected muscles are trained. Perception, coordination, precision and balance will be trained and improved. A permanant breathing, the use of bandhas (the specific use of certain muscles to control the flow of energy) and concentration are the true core elements of these exercises. Additionally, you can reduce stress and hardening and you will feel strong all around.

“Strive for silence, but by the equilibrium, not by the stand of your activity.”
– Friedrich Schiller –

Meditation at the temple of Wat Rat Uppatham/Bang Riang, Thailand

Mental and spiritual aspects

In Ashtanga Yoga, meditation isn’t in the foreground. Nevertheless there are many ways to question its mental abilities. To me, the awareness-centering between motivation/curiosity (why this risk or particularly this route?) satisfaction/pride (claim and self-esteem), performance (concentration and ambition) and know-how (knowledge and experience) seems to be particularly interesting. What relevance have the individual items and how much weighting do they have to each other? How do they affect my risk tolerance? Do I have the right understanding for a correct assessment? Ashtanga Yoga provides a healthy (time- and action-)environment in which you can intensively check your wishes, concerns and actions in a neutral context.

“Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.”
– Albert Einstein –

Ceremonial greeting at the Hochkönig, Austria

My recommendation

The aim of the whole process should be to go for climbing with a pure motive. So you get to know the elements of fear and overcome it by a clear rhythm, by pleasure in their own action and by getting to know the innermost connection to the mountain. The spirit gains in experience.

“The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”
– Anatoli Boukreev, Russland –

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