How to supplement your yoga practice – rock climbing, hiking, and adventurous ways to take your yoga skills off the mat.
For most of my yoga journey, yoga has been only a small part of my lifestyle. Yes, there was a time where yoga took over my life, but like most of the things that I’ve focused my entire being on, it turned out to be just a bit too much.
When I first came back from Thailand in October all I did was yoga. I had cut out all other forms of exercise and would spend at least 2 hours a day doing yoga.
My mat, the place I had felt most at home had transformed into a place I dreaded. At first I felt ashamed, here I was on Instagram promoting how epic and life changing yoga was but inside I felt like I was being stifled. I began making excuses and finding ways to avoid it. I kept telling myself I just needed a break but stopped teaching and when weeks turned into a month of avoidance I decided I needed to get moving.
After taking a brief break from yoga, I’ve decided that the best way to not drown myself in my practice would be to take yoga off the mat.
We are all different and all enjoy different activities. Some people are happy to be completely immersed in one form of physical fitness while others, like me, like to have a multitude of activities and hobbies that help them to achieve physical health and fitness.
I first started climbing back in November and quickly fell in love. For me, climbing is a lot like yoga in the sense that its therapeutic and has really great community. Through climbing I’ve gotten so much stronger in my upper body and core and I love how yoga helps me to climb better than I could if I wasn’t practicing.
There’s a reason that many climbing gyms hold yoga classes, it helps your climbing!
Now I’m not going to guarantee that anyone who does yoga is going to try climbing and immediately start sending routes! It’s hard!! But the flexibility, balance, and core and upper body strength from your practice definitely gives you a leg up when it comes to climbing.
Climbing can also improve your practice! I love inversions but I’ve always felt like I need to be stronger to do some of the inversions I am working towards. Climbing has helped me to build the strength and fluidity so that I can hold poses for longer and is also great practice for moving with your breath.
In high school I was on the track and cross country team. At first I hated it. It was clear to most of my teammates and all of my coaches that I was there for the people not the running. I took a year long break then when I began increasing my mileage in college I realized that running had become an activity I actually enjoyed.
It’s been a well known fact that yoga is awesome supplement running. Yoga especially all of the asanas that require balance help to strengthen your ankles. I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m some graceful swan of a person- when I’m running or even just walking I trip ALL OF THE TIME! So my yoga practice has helped me to avoid rolled ankles, and pulls that I’m sure would’ve put me out otherwise. Then there is the obvious benefit of breath control! Knowing how to move with your breath is a game changer when it comes to running.
Like climbing, running and yoga are also in a symbiotic relationship. Running and really any cardio helps in yoga because it helps you to build cardiovascular endurance. However for me, the biggest benefit of running when it comes to yoga is the mental game. The hard runs require a lot of will power, and this comes in handy when you’re trying to learn new poses, holding asanas for a long time, or anytime you need that extra umph to get through the hard part of your practice.
Before I moved to Hawaii back in 2015 I tried Kayla Itsines BBG and realized how much I enjoyed feeling strong. Strength training is something I shied away from for a while because I felt like I was losing flexibility. However I’ve found that as long as you are stretching and doing yoga in addition to circuit training it is definitely a great way to improve your practice!
Any time you’re building muscle stretching and rolling out is an especially crucial part of taking care of your body. Yoga is an awesome way to get that extra stretch from hard circuit training days. I usually alternate full sessions of yoga and circuit training (e.g. circuit training Monday, Wednesday, Friday then yoga Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) but usually include a little bit of yoga into every day.
Circuit training has improved my yoga practice in many ways. By building my strength I’m able to do so much more, also I’m able to hold asanas for longer!
If you look at my Instagram feed you can see that I spend quite a bit of time outdoors. I love being surrounded by nature and love doing yoga outside too. I think hiking is a great activity to go along with yoga. A lot of times I’ll hike to a beautiful location and do yoga at the view point or just find a nice clear spot in the forest to do a little yoga surrounded by nature.
Having a base yoga practice improves your fluidity of motion, so any time you’re walking or moving, your yoga practice is helping you to do it smoother. I think that yoga has helped me to move more gracefully and stomp around a lot less. These little ways of moving more efficiently help you to preserve energy and use it towards go further, higher, and longer!
My love for hiking has made it possible for me to do yoga in some truly incredible places. It’s opened up so many adventures.
The way I supplement my practice doesn’t have to match yours, but I think there is a beauty in branching out beyond our mats. There is opportunity in trying new things and finding how yoga helps you to be the best well rounded individual that you can.
Not only is it beneficial for you and your wellbeing to try new things and find new hobbies, it is also a way to help others. I’ve met so many individuals who have never even thought to try yoga but have decided to give yoga a shot after seeing how yoga can help you to improve in nearly every activity.
So let’s all spread the love, spill out our love, and share the joy of living a well rounded life.
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