Mental/ Spiritual Similarities between Yoga and Climbing
More importantly, both yoga and climbing share similarities that transcend beyond the physical body.
Focus and Calm
Through the practice of pranayama, yoga practitioners are invited to focus on breathing in order to calm the mind and be in the present. And we need to keep coming back to this breathing techniques throughout our asana practice for good reasons.
Imagine doing balancing poses such as Warrior III (Virabhadrasana C) or Ardha Badha Padmottanasana while thinking about lunch? Or forgetting to breathe while holding Navasana?
During climbing, the same focused and calm mindset is imperative to continue progressing upwards, one step at a time while trying not to fall and getting injured.
Thinking about lunch while up on the wall/rock few meters above the ground will definitely be worse than losing balance from Warrior III!
Therefore, yoga and climbing share Dharana (or concentration) both as a mean to an end and an end itself.
Courage and Confidence
I still remember the fear and doubt I had before my first inversion – Fear of falling down, breaking my neck and back.
And the fear during bouldering, when there is not any safety rope and I need to jump down after reaching the last hold. Or when I reach halfway during wall climbing and accidentally look down at how far the ground is.
But it doesn’t just stop there – once we conquer inversions or solve that V6.
In Ashtanga, once we complete the Primary series, there will be 5 other series of complex poses. Climbers would often feel stuck making the progress to the higher problem. For me now, V8 seems very daunting and just simply beyond my reach.
Both disciplines bring us out of our comfort zone, constantly require us to have courage to confront and grapple with our fears. Over time, the practice becomes mind over matter. We develop confidence and trust on our body and capability – and above all, on ourselves.
Looking back at some videos of me attempting inversion or V3 made me realise how far I have come.
There would be no progress without courage and confidence.
Humility and Perseverance
Falling down in climbing and failing to execute the asanas are common, shared by all practitioners.
Yet we keep trying again. And again.
We may not have developed enough grip strength or our hips are not open enough.
Whatever the reasons are, as long as we can identify them, both yoga and climbing teach us humility and perseverance – to keep trying and learning while honouring our bodies and other limitations.
Acknowledging that everyone is work in progress. There are people who are better than us and there are others who can learn from us.
Humble enough to receive adjustments for certain poses or to listen to beta (tips) from the crowd watching below.
As well as humble enough not to judge anyone but to encourage fellow practitioners.
With those aspects above, both yoga and climbing have become forms of moving meditation for me.
While they may not be as profound as Dhyana described in Yoga Sutra, but these exercises have provided me with glimpses of peace and calm, interrupting my otherwise hectic days with endless fluctuations of external stimulus.
These exercises invite me to look inward and know who I actually am.
These mental (some would even tag this as spiritual) aspects of these disciplines may not be as easily observable as the physical ones, but over time, practitioners would slowly notice their applicability and integration into the daily life.