Eight Limbs of Yoga The
eight stages of yoga are:
Yama (ethical disciplines);
(self observation); Asana
(posture); Pranayama (breath
(sense withdrawal); Dharana;
(concentration/ focus); Dhyana
(a state of joy or peace/ contemplation/a perfect flow of
attention on something that provides a superconscious experience).
as 'bridle' or 'rein' and is divided into five ethical disciplines;
(moderation/ self restraint); Aparigraha
- self reliance).
Niyama is also divided into five
moral observances; Shaucha
perserverance/ practice causing change or heat); Svandhyaya
(study or education of the self); Isvara
Pranidhana (surrender - devotion,
surrender to a higher force).
How can these ethical disciplines
or moral observances be applied to climbing?
Ahimsa : Non-harming or kindness Practicing
non -harming (no pain/ injury) in thoughts, words, feelings
and action. Maintain
compassion to yourself and others.
Cultivate awareness and feeling when
climbing instead of forcing.
a deep breath and ‘trying softer’ is always more
fruitful than cursing and throwing a fit.’ Eric
you have an injury don't do movements that will make it worse.
Accept that you need to work
with the injury in a nurturing, non agressive way.
imbalances are often responsible for many common climber injuries.
Maintain muscle balance in the forearms, upper arms, and shoulders.
your shoulders, elbows, wrists or fingers have any pain -
rest and recover.
and strains particular to climbers can be corrected with a
regular yoga practice.
Be truthful with your thoughts,
words and actions.
Be truthful to yourself and others.
Don't fear the truth.
Assess your climbing ability honestly. Listen
to your own body and what is true to you for your recovery.
It might not be your expectation or what other climbers are
doing, but it's what is true to you. View
climbing experiences as they are, through conscious awareness
What holds you back - the mind or the body? Be truthful to
the more negative aspects of this even if you don't like them.
Accept where your body is in the present moment. Today you
may be able to climb a hard route, maybe next week you'll
struggle on the same route. Don't force your body
to do what it's not ready to do. "The more we lead a life of honesty, the more we
will see the results, and that will encourage us to be more
honest." Yoga Sutra II.36.
: Non-stealing "Refers
to the stealing that grows from believing we cannot create
what we need." Aadil Palkhivala
If you hold back in a climbing movement you could be stealing
from energy that is there, but you don't believe that you
can do the move.
Don't attempt to do routes beyond your limit which require
a lot more preparation. Be sensitive to limitations and progress
towards harder routes intentionally.
Brahmacharya : Moderation/
Use your energy wisely. Respect
the limits of your movement and range of motion. Don't muscle through moves.
Preserve as much energy as possible.
Stay balanced in
thoughts, words and actions.
: Non-attachment or self-reliance Don't strain
or force your body into climbing a route that someone else
has just climbed - because of peer pressure for instance.
Don't be jealous of what other people have.
Believe in your own judgements.
Don't attach yourself to concepts of how things should be!
Practice non-attachment to the ego or to the outcome of a
on your own body at your own capacity.
“Be aware of the strong pull
of the mainstream, go out and try something novel, be an individual
and look for your own way in climbing.” John
"Aparigraha, in its essence, helps us discover our
own selves so that we no longer feel the need to covet what
someone else has, or be what someone else is." Aadil
“Perfection in action is Yoga. An act becomes perfect
when you do it with all joy and without expecting anything
in return.” 2: 50 Bhagavad Gita.
(Moral Observances) Saucha
: Clarity/ Purity
Be clear in a movement. Move with intention. Be pure in your decisions.Have no doubt.
Be pure in your intentions.
“If your mind is unsteady
and wandering, many branched and endless are the thoughts
and choices. When your mind is clear and one-pointed, there
is only one decision.” 2:41. Bhagavad
Santosha : Contentment Practice
mindfulness and breath awareness when climbing, to be in the
Feel contentment with just climbing. Just be as you are.
Asana, pranayama, and meditation, as
well as the yamas and niyamas, can contribute to contentment.
Contentment is to experience being at
ease in one's situation.
"For me, climbing is a form
of exploration that inspires me to confront my own inner nature
within nature. It is a means of experiencing a state of consciousness
where there are no distractions or expectations. This intuitive
state of being is what allows me to experience moments of
true freedom and harmony". Lynn
Hill, Climbing Free
"By contentment, supreme joy is
gained." Yoga Sutras II.42.
Tapas : Commitment/
with tapas means climbing with commitment and perserverance.
To progress in balance, strength and endurance you might have
to step outside your comfort zone to experience change.
Tapas is required to change the course
of our habits.
Accept a little heat when it comes.
Don't always look for a cool situation.
But don't go to extremes.
Practice (climb) with sincerity and
zeal without looking for some personal gain.
"I am the fragrance of the
earth, the brilliance in fire, the life in all beings, and
the purifying force in austerity." Bhagavad
: Study/ Education of Oneself
Study that concerns the true
self - really try to understand. Identify
unconscious habits in climbing. Develop an inner awareness.
Observe your actions and reflect on your experiences - positive
Watch out for your ego stepping in.
Maintain full awareness in the movement.
When climbing a route be an observer of your thoughts and
Not just on the surface but deep down.
Study with the heart and not just the mind.
pranidhana : Surrender (to a higher force) Fully let go. Trust that it will be okay. Believe
and give everything to the move in climbing - without doubt.
"While resting at the belay, I
looked across the valley at the face of Middle Cathedral.
On its mottled wall I noticed a play of shadows form the shape
of a heart. I have always noticed symbols around me, and the
heart on stone reminded me of the values that have always
been most important in my life and in climbing. My own development
as a climber has been a extension of the experiences, passion
and vision of others. For me , free climbing the Great Roof
was an opportunity to demonstrate the power of having an open
heart and spirit. Though I realized that I could easily fall
in my exhausted state, I felt a sense of liberation and strength
knowing that this was an effort worth trying with all my heart.
I had a strong feeling that this ascent was part of my destiny
and that somehow I could tap into that mysterious source of
energy to literally rise to the occassion.” Lynn
Hill, Climbing Free