two Ogres Ambassador, Alisha Kali, has been teaching yoga full time for more than 6 years, with current classes at a handful of yoga studios in Orange County, CA, geared towards intermediate and advanced students. She defines yoga and climbing as her biggest passions.
She remembers always being very athletic, but yoga practice helped her take the athleticism to another level. It taught her in particular that she is capable of so much more than she previously thought was possible.
Her dream is to travel and teach yoga around the world one day. We asked her about yoga and climbing, and how climbing can benefit from yoga.
How did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing yoga, like many people do, because I was looking for another form of exercise to complement my other physical activities. I had taken dance classes throughout high school and college and fell in love with yoga because it feels similar to dancing in many ways. I quickly realized that I would be a yogi for the rest of my life and I enrolled in a teacher training program after practicing yoga for only six months.
And how did you get into climbing?
One of my first experiences with rock climbing was in Las Vegas, where there used to be a 75 foot indoor rock wall. I climbed it for the first time when I was about 10 years old. I knew since then that I loved climbing and the feeling of accomplishment when you get to the top of a climb, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really devoted myself to the sport when I found a local climbing gym.
Yoga has become very popular among climbers. How do you see yoga and climbing complementing each other? How would yoga help with climbing?
When I began to immerse myself in the sport of climbing, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much it has in common with yoga. On a physical level, climbing requires strength, flexibility, and balance, all of which can be cultivated through a regular yoga practice. There are plenty of ways to build strength but yoga is unique in that it also involves those aspects of flexibility and balance, which oftentimes can make the difference between sending your climb or not. On a mental level, yoga trains us to stay focused and calm, even when faced with something strenuous, stressful, or challenging. As a climber, this skill is absolutely necessary. Climbing a difficult route is like solving a puzzle and you can’t expect yourself to do it well unless you’re approaching the problem with a clear head. The emphasis on the breath, which yoga teaches, is a huge part of this.
What type of yoga would you recommend to climbers?
There are so many styles of yoga and everyone will have their own preferences. I think just about any style you can think of will be beneficial to climbers in some way, depending on the exact skills you wish to focus on. I teach a style of yoga called Vinyasa Flow, which involves dynamic movements synchronized with breath. I think this kind of yoga can be very helpful for climbers because it includes all three of those aspects of fitness that I mentioned earlier: strength, flexibility, and balance. The beauty of yoga is that your practice can be different from day to day. You may like to do a strenuous, heat-building practice one day and then something slow and meditative the next. All of it will help you in the long run.
Can a climber who has never done yoga before easily get started?
Climbers have an advantage when starting up a yoga practice because they already have developed quite a bit of strength and coordination. Having said that, yoga is almost always difficult in the beginning. Your body is adapting to new movements and new experiences and this takes time. My advice to beginning yoga students is to try as many different styles and teachers as possible. You won’t like every single yoga class, but if you take a variety of them, you’re bound to find something that you absolutely love. Be patient with yourself and trust that you’re making progress, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
If you are in Orange County and interested in attending one of Alisha’s classes, you can find her schedule of weekly classes on www.yogawithalisha.com.
You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter through her website and she will send you bits of inspiration and updates on her upcoming workshops, teacher trainings, and other events.
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