Two prAna Yoga Invitations: Bringing Yoga Back & The Yoga Mat Challenge

BYB This morning, I’m pleased to share the launch of not one, but two yoga invitations to help you begin, sustain, motivate, recommit to, or deepen your yoga practice, brought to you by prAna, as follows:

 


12-Day Yoga Invitation

We’re #bringingyogaback in a big way this spring and want your help!  To celebrate, we’re hosting a 12-day Instagram yoga-inspire-a-thon. The prize? $1,000 in prAna gear for one lucky winner AND a friend! This is not about competition—you will not be docked points for not having the perfect downward dog, don’t worry. Instead, we want to inspire you, your friends, and your family to hit the mat more often and share your progress with the larger Insta family. As further motivation, one lucky participant will receive $1,000 in new prAna gear from our Spring Collection AND the opportunity to gift another $1,000 in gear to a person of their choice (because isn’t giving as  fun as receiving?). All ability levels are welcome, so don’t feel any pressure to replicate a pose exactly… just do your best and always listen to your body.

To enter:

1) Follow @prAna on Instagram

2) Post a pic of yourself doing the pose of the day – you don’t have to post every day to enter

3) Use #bringingyogaback and tag @prAna             

4) Get your friends & family in on the fun

That’s it! The fun starts tomorrow, February 9th. For detailed instructions on each pose, check out the 12-Day Yoga Invitation page.

* Special thanks to my fellow prAna teammate, and all-around awesome yogi, Michael Fukumura for sequence contribution.

The Yoga Mat Challenge

ahennaTo help encourage your consistent yoga practice, every time you attend one of my yoga classes in Ten Sleep or Worland, Wyoming from February 9 through the end of March, your name will be entered in a drawing to win a prAna Henna E.C.O. Yoga Mat. The winner’s name will be drawn at the first class in each town that takes place in April. All you need to do to be entered in the drawing is to show up to yoga class! AY

Move of the Month 4: The Open-Hand Grip (Improve Your Climbing Series)

Move of the Month is back, hopefully with more consistency this time around!

This month’s move is the open-handed grip position. Though I started out my climbing life attempting (somewhat successfully) to crimp every hold I grabbed for dear life, I’ve long since come to believe is the most desirable way to grasp and use the majority of handholds, “crimpers” included – unless you need the extra strength of the crimp to help you hang on and/or pull you through. If you’re confused about the difference between open-handing and crimping a hold, take a look at the photos below for clarification.

In this photo I'm open-handing with both hands.

In this photo I’m open-handing with both hands.

In this photo, my left hand is open-handing, while my right hand is crimping.

In this photo, my left hand is open-handing, while my right hand is crimping.

I don’t want to get into too many nerdy details here (or in any Move of the Month entries) about the whys of the open-handed position being preferable, so I’ll keep it short and to the point, sharing my top three reasons why I prefer open-handing holds as my default way of taking holds rather than crimping, and why I recommend training to a high level of comfort with open-handing holds.

First, open-handing holds tends to have less injury potential than crimping due to the less stressful  way an open-handed grip loads your fingers. As your fingers are already extended in an open-handed grip, this reduces the risk of a sudden and potentially damaging impact (e.g. the dreaded tendon or pulley “pop”) should your crimp-grip unintentionally open up (a major cause of climbing finger injuries).

That same less power-sapping, less stressful grip also helps you preserve that finger strength for if and when you need it for crimping, usually making for a slower drain of your strength, power, power endurance, and endurance than you would experience were you to crimp every single hold all the way up a route (and also reducing the risk of explosive, unintentional opening from crimp to open hand).

Finally, I find that keeping an open-handed grip gives me more potential directions of movement that I have off of any given hold than when I lock it down into a crimp grip. I feel more relaxed and able to almost swing off of my much more relaxed grip – the relative relaxation of my hand extends through my arm and shoulder, and I can usually more easily change my angle and trajectory of movement for my entire body than I can if and when I lock a hold down into a powerful crimp. To fully open hand any given handhold, I actually have to drop my relatively short pinky entirely off of the hold in question, but I still find the leverage better in many cases.

Here I am open-handing a small hold with my pinky off -- my most commonly used grip on small holds these days.

Here I am open-handing a small hold with my pinky off — my most commonly used grip on small holds these days.

I still crimp when I need to -- here crimping hard with the left hand while open-handing with the right.

I still crimp when I need to — here crimping with the left hand while open-handing with the right.

This is not to say that crimping doesn’t have its place. I believe that you should be able to crimp when needed, of course – when the strength generated by your bent fingers gives you the extra purchase and power needed to get you through the move. You should most definitely train your fingers to be strong in a crimped position as well as to be strong at open handing – and ideally, to be strong at changing in a controlled way from an open-hand to a crimped grip, and from a crimped grip to an open-handed one.

Crimping a hold instead of open-handing it can make the difference between doing and not doing a move for me sometimes, for sure. I just only pull out that weapon when necessary these days – and it only took about six tendon pulley injuries over the course of my first few years of climbing for me to stop crimping so much (slow learner, but I do learn eventually).

If you want more details about this week’s topic, check out Improve Your Sport Climbing (12): Technique, Part 8 (EASY-HARD): Primary Technical Issues: C) Grip.

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. This information and advice is based on my 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

Climbing IS the Best Training for Climbing, But… Part 11 (IYC 17)

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More Specific Training Can Help You Climb Off of the Plateau or Perhaps Avoid it Altogether

For those wishing to improve their climbing effectively and efficiently, the ideal amount of time spent “just climbing” vs. structured climbing training (i.e. employing drills and exercises focusing on areas that need work in a climbing context) vs. strength training outside of climbing is a matter of figuring out the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to each activity, given where you are in your life as a climber and where you are in the training year, too.

This will involve some trial and error, for sure, and what will be most effective for you really depends on your particular situation. In general, though, those interested in engaging with training for climbing beyond “just climbing” should keep in mind the following:

  • Beginner climbers should spend the largest portion of their training time dedicated to “just climbing,” but ideally always with a mind to learning and improving tactical/technical skills. Getting feedback from others and observing more experienced climbers is a great way to hasten this process. Training off the rock most or all of the time will not teach you how to rock climb or make you much of a better climber without a lot of time spent on the rock, too.
  • More experienced climbers/trainers should spend proportionately more time working on less-strong areas that hold them back using outside of climbing strength-training methods than the beginners should, and beginners should spend more time climbing and less time training such areas of concern – though they should definitely still give them some attention.
  • The less you’ve trained a specific area that holds you back, the more potential gains you are likely to make in that area, whether it’s technical, tactical, physical (strength, power, power endurance, endurance), or mental.
  • The more you’ve trained a specific area that holds you back, the fewer potential gains you are likely to make in that area, whether it’s technical, tactical, physical (strength, power, power endurance, endurance), or mental.
  • If you’ve been climbing for a long time and you’ve utterly ignored an area of climbing or training, you have way more potential to improve than someone who has trained all relevant areas equally and efficiently and effectively right from the get-go.
  • Neither beginning climbers/trainers nor experienced climbers/trainers should spend all their training time strength training a particular area (for example) in every workout all year long, even if it’s their weakest link. Training should be varied enough to avoid overtraining, burnout, overuse injuries and boredom.
  • Both groups should spend plenty of time training by using climbing as training, but viewing almost every day as a training opportunity when you’re aware of your areas that hold you back and choosing moves, routes, angle, sequences and styles that push you is a great way to implement more focus and direction into your climbing without making it all about training, all the time.
  • Don’t do any of this if it makes your climbing too serious and never fun, unless you enjoy being too serious and never having any fun. Balance training days or months with days or weeks or even months dedicated to doing whatever you want at whatever level you want. Training is a big-picture, long-term prospect, and most sports do have an off-season for refreshing and renewing psych. Climbers would do well to remember this! 100 percent peak performance all the time is impossible, no matter who you are.

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. This information and advice is based on my 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

Climber. Writer. Aspiring Yogi. Climbing Coach/Trainer. Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). ACTION Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Avid Lifelong Learner.

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