Climbing, just like surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking or paragliding, is about the freedom and vitality gained from efficient, graceful movement and the skilful harnessing of energy in a natural environment that is potentially overpowering. Disciplined awareness, efficiency, balance, insight and working with the grain of nature are at the heart of adventure sports.


Climbing is a highly accessible and inclusive UK sport with a rich history, the best amateur sporting traditions, high technical standards, a well-organized competition circuit, and a high international profile. According to the 2000 Government’s Household Survey “some 5% of men and 5% of women [i.e. 1 in 20 of the UK population] had participated in climbing in 1999” up from 4% and 2% respectively in 1996, making it the fastest growing sport in the country at that time. Its popularity continues to grow.

Climbing is incredibly diverse, interesting and demands creativity. Each individual has their own reasons as to why they climb, what they get out of climbing, and how they apply this awareness to their lives as a whole.

learning and growth philosophy
Learning is a change in the way that we think, feel or behave. We initially become aware of change, then we action change and finally it becomes a reality. We have to then preserve it so that the learning becomes a way of life. As Yehudi Menhuin says "Everything in life which is of value requires continuous effort and renewal". Climbing helps us to form a philosophy for learning, it helps us to work with our strengths and weaknesses.

"Climbing gives a climber of any age a solid basis for many other aspects of life if he is open and sensitive. Climbing demands sensitivity, a creative attitude and a collection of mental, psychological and physical powers. The athletic abilities and human qualities of a person develop steadily out of this situation - an important consideration in our often very superficial times". Bernd Arnold

holistic approach
To be holistic is to be striving towards a balanced and integrated development as a whole individual, including cognitive, physical, emotional, individual and social aspects. Climbing encourages a holistic approach to life.

Balance, aesthetics and the choreography of moves, if mastered, create a sense of 'flow' and optimal efficiency as well as a feeling of great satisfaction. Dancers and gymnasts immediately tune into this energy when climbing.

"Movement has always fascinated me. When I started studying physics in high school and then university it was like a revelation. All my life I'd been doing all these things with my body (gymnastics) and suddenly I could see how it all worked. I find that physics is one of the most interesting things for me in climbing as well". Abby Watkins

 
 

metaphor for life
My brother recently said to me when I took him to Sennen for his first climbing experience, when he came to a section where the holds were not obvious he learned how small changes or movements can help to overcome more difficult sections of the route. When he actually committed to the move it was okay and there was always a foothold or handhold. Often we live in the future. We worry about what will happen and get caught up in our thought and emotions, which we believe is real. Climbing in a mindful way can help us to learn to stay in the moment and enjoy the climbing, without being concerned about thoughts that aren't reality. We can apply this to our day to day living.

"Climbing has become a metaphor for me in a lot of ways in how to be a happy person because I think you need to make an effort, you need to direct yourself and plan in your mind how to get there. Climbing in this case is a pure means of transport. Your achievements in climbing are a lot less relevant than what you learn in the process - it is not what you climb that counts, but how you climb it. For me climbing serves as a guide to take me in a positive direction, it helps me to become a more efficient human being and makes me more perceptive and respectful to nature". Lynn Hill

engage your mind
Climbing demands complete focus. This energizes and engages the mind, at the same time releasing it from every-day worries. It can become a form of meditation.

"I can concentrate on precisely that which is necessary without getting distracted by anything". Johnny Dawes

self confidence
Climbing teaches you to have self confidence in your own ability, think and act for yourself.

"These positive, intense experiences in climbing outdoors are imprinted on my mind. They have given me self confidence and also helped me to master other situations in life".
Karin Kavoussi

problem solving
Climbing is about creatively solving problems when under pressure both physically and mentally.

"The type of problems when bouldering appealed to me instantly. There I could try out things for myself until I succeeded. The good feeling about having solved things myself has stayed with me to this day. It is an important driving force behind my performance".
Stefan Glowacz

Physical
Climbing does not target one particular muscle. It challenges every muscle group. No movement is the same, the body works creatively.
Moving from a strong core is essential to climbing fluidly and without effort. Liz Koch tells us that, "True strength, stability and autonomy comes when the connection between the various parts of you work in harmony." When learning new climbing movements internal awareness of our core can help us to feel a movement, as opposed to just copying.



Commitment
When you decide to fully commit and take a risk - only then will you engage with action. This means that you make a conscious decision and there is no more negative thinking, no more doubt in your mind.

Moving, changing, evolving and being open are all about letting go. Letting go of unconscious or conscious habits, concepts, expectations, fears, anxiety, worry. Learning to replace fear with trust! When disturbed by negative thoughts - opposite (or positive) ones should be thought. You will find that you can't think of the negative thoughts, once you're focused on the positive. Awareness and objectivity are key to this.

 

Climbing and Yoga
Breathing is so simple and so obvious, we often take it for granted yet it is the very essence of life. Gravity keeps us grounded. Both yoga and climbing help us to become aware of movement, posture and balance and how our breathing can have physical effects.

Yoga asanas (postures) stretch and strengthen your muscles, teach you correct alignment of posture and build endurance and balance. Yoga postures train and discipline the mind as well as the body. Perfect alignment of a posture can only be achieved by mentally being focused and aware at all times. Concentration, awareness and attention are of the greatest importance when practising yoga. Asanas need to be practised with ‘Tapas’ (self discipline and intensity of feeling) and with deliberate commitment.




When climbing we are applying force onto holds (pushing and pulling). We can work with gravity by learning the correct alignment and force needed to make a move. Climbing with commitment and a deliberate action, engaging our core muscles and only the muscles required to make the move while relaxing the muscles not needed, will help us to carry out a move with poise and grace. If we give climbing our full attention through a philosophy of mindful thinking and stay aware we will climb with acceptance, commitment and an open mind.

Annie Anderson began traditional climbing fifeteen years ago in the UK. She enjoyed competing in UK bouldering and on-sight leading competitions at this time. Having climbed in Spain, France, Italy, Australia, America, Oman, UAE, Turkey and the UK she has built up a large repertoire of climbing experience. In 1996 she moved to Dubai. The next five years brought adventure and travel, while running and developing the Dubai climbing wall and guiding in the Oman/ UAE mountains. She did a lot of on-sight traditional, multi-pitch climbing in the UAE/ Omani borders including new routes of up to 500 metres. Her teaching methods have evolved from her years of experience in climbing, through teaching and research. Annie has been practicing and studying yoga for five years. Asanas have given her insights into the similarities of core body tension, balance and the physics of the body in climbing and yoga as well as mindfulness, awareness, attention and concentration. She applies this to her own climbing and yogaclimbing and continues to research and develop the yoga and climbing which has become her main focus.



Annie Anderson
annie@yogaclimbing.com