/ Yoga?

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kevin stephens - on 24 Mar 2013
I've heard good things about yoga, also that there are different disciplines, some more challenging than others? What is the most appropriate for for committed climbers? Hatha seems to be aimed disconcertingly at "all abilities...." whilst I've heard Bikram is particularly challenging. I'm looking for core strenght, flexibility, imprved co-ordination, mental skills etc.

Jon Stewart - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

I did Ashtanga (dynamic) yoga for a couple of years when I lived somewhere with a great instructor, and before I started climbing. I really loved it, developed lots of strength, flexibility, balance, aerobic fitness and got a little way into the meditation side. But if you're looking for the meditation thing you might be better off reading about it separately and trying to combine the two yourself rather than trying to get that from an instructor. It will just depend who's out there and what their style of teaching is.
ti_pin_man - on 25 Mar 2013
I had heard similar, that Ashtanga was ideal but struggled to find somebody who ran classes in it near where I lived but manged to find somebody running a class combining yoga and physio, it was aimed at runners and cyclists and having done four weeks I am now feeling a little more flexible.
Nick Russell on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

It depends so much on the instructor that it's hard to give general advice. I do a bit of Iyengar yoga (I think that's normally considered a subset of Hatha) and really enjoy it. The instructor for the classes I go to really does work you hard, but I'm aware that not all will.

As far as being "aimed disconcertingly at all abilities" goes, it does permit the use of props (bricks, belts, etc.) to get the form correct initially (and prevent injuries and speed learning), but also strongly encourages discarding them as soon as possible to do the full pose.
JayPee630 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Did it really give you cardio fitness?! All the ones I've been to and seen really wouldn't have done that more than walking to the class would have.
Thrudge on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:
> Hatha seems to be aimed disconcertingly at "all abilities...."

Ha, ha, ha! I remember starting a hatha yoga class years ago, when i was fit and strong. I turned up, looked around, and thought, "Oh - it's old lady exercise. Oh well, I'm here so I'll do the lesson then not come back next week." I spent the next 90 minutes bright red with effort, shaking like a leaf, and sweating like a pig - while two lovely old ladies well into their seventies cruised through the moves in far better style than me and made encouraging remarks like, "Keep going, dear, you're doing very well!"

Strenuous doesn't begin to describe it. I kept going for a couple of years and got considerably stronger and way more flexible. And half the time I walked home after a session feeling like i was floating on air. Awesome stuff. Shame I gave it up, but the classes got seriously overcrowded.
edunn on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

Yoga is definitely a good thing. I started it about eight months ago after recurring knee problems and tightness across my hips and quads. I tried stretching regularly but I just didn't have the motivation, so I took up yoga as a guaranteed way to stretch properly each week.

I do ashtanga yoga, which is dynamic enough for me.
jonnyblindsign - on 25 Mar 2013
I would definitely recommend Iyengar, having done it for about 7 years now, I've never been so flexible or balanced. I tried a few other styles before that (hatha, ashtanga, 'power') and found Iyenger to be better as it concentrated on the technique of each pose more, so you get the most benefit from your practice. I think it is important to choose a teacher well though as that can make all the difference... you can find accredited local teachers here:

Another thing when looking into styles of yoga, do some research into how you can become a teacher in each style. Some styles (such as Bickram for example) you do a couple of weekend course, pay a wacking great fee and hey presto you are a qualified teacher, whereas others have a much more rigourous teacher training scheme stretching over years.

Hi by the way, this is my first post here although I've been lurking here a while
Skip - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga are both Hatha Yoga and use the same moves/positions. The difference is that Ashtanga is more dynamic, and was developed specifically for westerners who were considered to less patient that those from Asia.

"Traditional hatha yoga is a holistic yogic path, including disciplines, postures (asana), purification procedures (shatkriya), gestures (mudra), breathing (pranayama), and meditation. The hatha yoga predominantly practiced in the West consists of mostly asanas understood as physical exercises. It is also recognized as a stress-reducing practice."

Most westerners only practice asanas and only refer to postures when talking of Yoga. Most teachers also only teach asanas, although a good teacher should include breathing techniques appropriate to the various asanas.

Hatha Yoga will improve flexibility, balance, body awareness and core strength - all helpful in climbing.

I used to practice Hatha Yoga daily, i was taught in India. Sadly i no longer practice, but am planning to start again in the near future.
Ava Adore - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

As a previous poster suggested, look for yoga classes in your area and try them out. Some don't specify the type of yoga and are classed as "fitness yoga" (a lot of leisure centre classes round here are categorised in that way). I'm very lucky in that my climbing wall runs regular yoga classes and the guy that runs the classes is a climber so understands what will be of benefit.
neilh - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:
Kevin. Have a word with me next time you see me.Ashtanga is the best as others have indicated.But to gain real benfit you need to go 2/3 times a weeks for min 90 mins a session to improve your flexibility etc. You also need to hunt round for good classes run by good teachers, some our rubbish. Some are superb.

At first its a bit weird, but you can tell the good teachers. they will come round checking your positons etc. The poor ones usually just demonstrate and leave you to follow.The good ones will also have a mixture of genders, not just the housewifes.

Be prepared to spend alot of time on all fours, so if your shoulders are giving you grief, an easy class may be the right way forward.

Personally I find the mental side a bit " new age" and rubbish. But the dynamic movements, breathing etc are excellent.
50mmstandard on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Tony Naylor:

Similar experience to Tony; my girlfriend invited me along to an Ashtanga yoga class. I was pretty fit at the time, and assumed it would be a load of middle aged women waving their arms about and pretending to be trees. I must have sweated a litre in the first ten minutes, and was close to giving in after half an hour. If I could find a good instructor where I live now I'd definitely give it another go.
Ali - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to kevin stephens: I used to do Ashtanga yoga in Manchester and had a really good instructor - felt totally beasted after a session though! Tried a Hatha yoga session today after a few years off, and it was good, but didn't beast me as much (though that's not necessarily a bad thing!) - think it really depends on your instructor.
williamsf1 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to neilh: Your generalising somewhat there and i think that what you said regarding instructors is not entirely true.

i teach Yoga but i don't go around the room man handling people into positions.

i teach to a maximum of 6 people at a time firstly due to space but also for a more personal experience.

A good instructor isn't measure but how they walk around touching you.
A good instructor is one that can look at someones posture and talk them into the correct position in as little words as possible.

i do the class with my group to show them what to do but give specific coaching cues. I can correct anyone's posture easily in only a few words without needing to touch them.

I am not saying that in the best instructor, we all have our styles but ill put it out there and say that im pretty bloody good and my participants see good results from their practice.
GeoffG - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to williamsf1:
I've been doing ashtanga for 6 yrs now and its made a real difference to maintaining my flexibility, or at least trying to at my age, and relieving lower back pain.
It took 3 months of classes (1 per week) before i noticed any difference, but i am converted now.
I could do it at home now from a dvd but i've not got the discipline and anyway its more social to become part of a group.
neilh - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to williamsf1:

Yes it was a generalisation.That is my experience, mind you I have never been in classes of 6. Touching is the wrong word, more like as you say adjusting your position. There are some instructors who will ignore new students. I have seen it with my own eyes. i was fortunate my first one was incredibly helpful and I learnt the basics as a result.Thereafter the qulaity of instuctors has been mixed.
Ava Adore - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to williamsf1:
> (In reply to neilh) my participants see good results from their practice.

Indeed they do. I can even feel an embryonic 6 pack forming

Ava Adore - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to neilh:
> (In reply to kevin stephens)
> .But to gain real benfit you need to go 2/3 times a weeks for min 90 mins a session to improve your flexibility etc.

I don't agree with this. I've never been to more than one class a week - the longest of which was 1.5 hours. But because I have been going regularly for a couple of years, my flexibility improved a lot from baseline.
Siderunner - on 01 Apr 2013
I have done a fair bit of yoga over the last 10 years, mainly astanga for the first few years, more recently it's mainly hatha and sometimes astanga-derived flow classes. I spent 3 months in India training as a yoga instructor a couple of years ago

If you want a physically exhausting yoga workout you can't beat Astanga. In effort level it's akin to a fairly intensive aerobics class. Sounds simple, but read on ...

If you are a serious climber who trains a lot, Astanga will get in the way of climbing training as it is far too strenuous to be used as a rest day option; something I found a major scheduling problem 6 or 7 years ago when I was doing a lot of both. In that case a more laid back style like general Hatha or Iyengar will suit much better as a recovery day thing. If you are inflexible or prone to injuries these slower styles are also safer as you are less likely to overdo it in your enthusiasm and tear things.

Remember that yoga is primarily about (breathing and) stretching and holding poses statically, flow classes notwithstanding. So you can push yourself as hard or as little as you like, hence the all-abilities classes. E.g. consider a simple exercise like touching your toes from standing and holding it for 10 breaths. One person in the class might barely reach their knees and then just listen to their breathing for the next ten breaths; on the other hand their neighbour in the class puts their palms on the floor, and with each exhalation draws in their abdominals gently (uddiyana/mula bandha) and consciously relaxes whilst bending further down and folding their stomach onto their thighs, with each inhalation they lengthen their spine through the crown of their head and draw their kneecaps up using their thigh muscles. You get the picture ...

As others have said, finding a teacher you like helps a lot. My advice would be to try several different classes, starting with the most convenient times and places, until you find something you enjoy enough to want to go back regularly. On the other hand, by allowing yourself to be open-minded I suspect you will get something from pretty much any yoga class.
kevin stephens - on 01 Apr 2013
In reply to Siderunner (and others): Thanks, that's very useful and insightful.
Jamming Dodger on 01 Apr 2013
In reply to kevin stephens: I work around Leigh. If you do find a decent class then let me know how it goes? Im toying with the idea but need more convincing and it would need to be conveniently placed.
astley007 - on 01 Apr 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:
Am also keen as well
Nick B
kevin stephens - on 01 Apr 2013
In reply to astley007: It'll make a change from booby dooby night! I'll see what I can find out locally
goosebump - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

Hi Kevin,
I used to live in Chester, and Sarah Ramsden is an excellent teacher with a class on Mondays there (630pm - 8pm for beginners, 8pm - 930pm intermediates). She calls it "sport yoga", but its ashtanga derived. Sarah is sport science trained and uses her yoga to coach footballers (Man City mainly), so in class will talk through muscle groups, where the stretch should/shouldnt be and why certain poses are useful for sports people. Aside from linking poses with breathing, there is no additional meditation or breath work, so if that side of things is what you are after its not that type of class. Lots of rowers, runners and cyclists attend, and if I hadnt moved away I would still be there too!
She will physically adjust (with your permission) if it means you better understand the pose you are working toward.
Who ever said that ashtanga and climbing dont go has a valid point - it is not active rest. It is hard work if you apply yourself. My tuppence is that all the press up positions strengthen and balance my shoulders, which prevents a niggly impingement injury flaring up, so for me its worth it.
Lastly, once you know the moves have a look at "The Athletes Guide to Yoga" book or DVD. Written by a triathlete, with sound knowledge on when yoga is useful, plus some sport specific routines.
Hope some of that helps!
SnowGood - on 03 Apr 2013
Any style of yoga will benefit climbing and it's a case of finding a practice or instructor that works for you. The poses (asanas)are the same and derive from hatha. The point of yoga is not just the strength and flexibility benefits which of course are fantastic, but also the breath and mind benefits. When I took it up in my early teens, yoga was the stuff of hippies and old ladies. I completely did not get the meditative aspect but now that I am a hippy old lady, I really appreciate the sense of calmness I get by the end of a class

Astanga Mysore is a self practice where the same sequence of movements is practised daily with a rest day on Saturday. Off shoots of astanga include Vinyassa Yoga (vinyassa is the flow between poses), flow yoga, power yoga and dynamic yoga. It's a strenuous practice where you work on synchronising your breath to the movement. While a daily practice could be a bit much on top of other training, a weekly astanga style practice would integrate into any sport training.

Bikram and other types of hot yoga take place in a room heated to 40 degrees. While the heat allows the muscles to relax, there is a risk of injury if you push yourself too far. Bikram follows a fixed sequence of poses (different to those in Astanga). As I get cross and bothered when it gets much above 20 degrees, I have avoided it thus far, however a few yogi friends swear by the benefits although another told me she couldn’t re-establish homeostasis for hours because she felt so dehydrated.

For those in the Edinburgh area, the EICA has a weekly yoga class which was initially pitched at climbers but now has a mix of attendees.

Jamming Dodger on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to kevin stephens: Does anybody know if they still do the yoga classes at MCC? Cant see anything about it on their website.
bensilvestre - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to kevin stephens: Someone may have already mentioned this, not gonna read it all, but something to bear in mind is that if you have areas of your body that are prone to tightening up after/during exercise it is likely that they do so to protect a weakness. One muscle over compensates for another. So when you start doing yoga and your body becomes more balanced, you may notice some pain, because the weak muscle that was being protected earlier is now having to do more work. This happened to me in my shoulder when I started doing yoga. You may just need to relax the intensity of your climbing for a while as the muscle strengthens, and then you'll be able to step it up again, and all the better for having a balanced body! Just a warning, as I know people who've been completely put off yoga by this happening, you just gotta stick with it a while, as in all likelihood it'll prevent a major injury in the future.

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