Today’s Visual Yoga Blog derives its name from its similarity to a rock climber hugging the face of a mountain.
… and the similarity between the two may end there, because whereas the rock climber is using all her might to hang on for dear life, you, dear yogi, are just relaxing against your mat.
Aren’t you lucky.
Still, it’s a great pose for some good, thorough release of back tension, which, whether you climb rocks or sit too long in an office, you might need.
1. Lie face down on the left side of your mat, bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle to your body, and flatten your hip bone and inner thigh against your mat. Your left arm extends up on the mat; your right palm and your chin rest on it. Take 3 slow breaths here.
2. Press on your hands, turn your head to the right and lift your upper body a little and your right shoulder higher than your left shoulder. Look back over your right shoulder, without forcing. Take 2 slow breaths here and come back to the first position.
3. For the second pass, do the same thing as in step 2, except press your right knee firmer on the floor, extend your right arm and, turning to the right, look over it. Keep your hip flat against your mat. Take 3 slow breaths and then go back to the first position.
4. For the third pass and the full pose, do what you did in step 2, except take in further: roll over your left shoulder and arm, and drop your right arm however close to the floor it can reach without forcing, letting gravity do the work. Your right hip rises further, your right knee comes in a little to be able to press against the floor and support the twist better. Stay for 3 (or more) long breaths and then repeat the entire 4-step sequence on the other side.
Benefits: Easy yet effective stretch to the low, middle and upper back, to the shoulders and to the neck.
Avoid if: If your range of turning in steps 2, 3 or 4 is such that you feel pain rather than a comfortable twist, skip the pose completely. Otherwise, this should be a fairly gentle and doable pose under most circumstances, even if your range of motion is limited.
Final thoughts: The primary advantage of the rock climber’s pose is that you don’t have to get in your car and drive for 2 hours before you get to a rock worth climbing. The other advantage is that if you fall in rock climber’s pose… well, you hit your chin on your mat and that’s it. Now that’s a risk level I can live with.