Yoga on the Rocks

“Yell ‘FALLING,’ then push away from the wall, keep your feet flat against the rock, and trust your belay,” hollered Jason, our really cute shaggy headed rock climbing instructor ( on Sunday in my first climbing lesson.  It’s scary to trust that I could really freefall without fear because someone held me secure in their hands.  It worked, though – and the second time we ‘tested’ my belay, I was to fall without announcing it.  Because I knew that my belay was solid AND backed up by Jason, there was no fear and I just flew off the wall. 

After the lesson, the climbing really began.  Rocks with the deepest indentations for my fingers were like an answered prayer as my grip weakened during the climb.  “Once you’ve climbed for a bit, rock climbing will begin to feel like climbing a ladder – boring,” admonished Jason.  “Instead of hand over hand, begin to map out the journey, strategize your next move, and get creative on the climb.  It’s all about having fun on the journey.”

Even with these words, I watched others new to this sport scrambling like mice over the rocks, leaving them breathless, forearms burning.  “Think of rock climbing as being like yoga,” Jason advised. 

That’s IT!  All his instructions were yoga and real life instructions. 

Rock climbing is just like yoga – as mind and body connect to the structure of the colored toe holds, there’s strategy and finesse in just how to step onto them, where to place your hands so your arms are lengthening away from the core, using muscles most effectively by pushing up with your legs with less pulling on your arms.  Just like the careful placement of your hands in down dog that allows a light lengthening from the solidness of your foundation.

Pause, breathe, extend.  Staying present and connected to my breathe, I looked for the next hand hold, then foot placed, exhale and push off.  Steadily, I climbed, and just like in yoga, treated the transitions with the respect of the pose knowing that these in-between-the-breath moments are just as critical to the flow of vinyasa as warrior poses. 

A couple of times, I could feel fatigue and trembling thighs, my grip loosening its hold on the rock.  Still, I didn’t worry.  I knew my belay had me and all I had to do is yell, “Take,” and she would slowly lower me to the ground.  Just like in yoga, someone has my back – my belay in rock climbing and my inner teacher in life.  That deep inner knowledge gave me strength to go on.

An aha moment to once again validate the path of yoga is not just on the mat!

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