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shower below the summit


Rock climbers are often faced by the problem that they are just too muscular and they neglect other possibilities to develop their abilities in rock climbing. The downside of this approach includes often tendonitis through the hands, other injuries and a climbing style based on power even where smart solutions are possible.

After facing a tendonitis climbers usually take yoga as a compliment to the muscle workout. They think that this can add an advantage, but the focus remain always on muscle training. Climbers think that flexibility provided by a yoga routine will reduce the incidence of tendonitis and generally prevent injuries. Partially this is true. You can get some benefits from the practice of yoga poses, but your approach to rock climbing will remain the same, there will be just a little improvement.

Rock climbers could have a different approach, I'm talking about a real change in rock climbing habits. This change can come with practicing awareness. One of the more basic techniques to experience awareness is breathing.

With this extract from the first two chapters of the The Science of breath, I would like to introduce you to the work of Yogi Ramacharaka, pseudonymous of William Walker Atkinson:

There have been for ages past in India and other Oriental countries men who devoted their time and attention to the development of Man, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The experience of generations of earnest seekers has been handed down for centuries from teacher to pupil, and gradually a definite Yogi science was built up. To these investigations and teachings was finally applied the term "Yogi," from the Sanscrit word " Yug," meaning "to join." From the same source comes the English Word "yoke," with a similar meaning. Its use in connection with these teachings is difficult to trace, different authorities giving different explanations, but probably the most ingenious is that which holds that it is intended as the Hindu equivalent for the idea conveyed by the English phrase, "getting into harness," or "yoking up," as the Yogi undoubtedly "gets into harness" in his work of controlling the body and mind by the Will.

Yoga is divided into several branches, ranging from that which teaches the control of the body, to that which teaches the attainment of the highest spiritual development. In the work we will not go into the higher phases of the subject, except when the "Science of Breath" touches upon the same. The "Science of Breath" touches Yoga at many points, and although chiefly concerned with the development and control of the physical, has also its psychic side, and even enters the field of spiritual development.

Life is absolutely dependent upon the act of breathing, "Breath is Life." Differ as they may upon details of theory and terminology, the Oriental and the Occidental agree upon these fundamental principles. To breathe is to live, and without breath there is no life. Not only are the higher animals dependent upon breath for life and health, but even the lower forms of animal life must breathe to live, and plant life is likewise dependent upon the air for continued existence.

Breathing may be considered the most important of all of the functions of the body, for, indeed, all the other functions depend upon it. Man may exist some time without eating; a shorter time without drinking; but without breathing his existence may be measured by a few minutes. And not only is Man dependent upon Breath for life, but he is largely dependent upon correct habits of breathing for continued vitality and freedom from disease. An intelligent control of our breathing power will lengthen our days upon the earth by giving us increased vitality and powers of resistance, and, on the other hand, unintelligent and careless breathing will tend to shorten our days, by decreasing our vitality and laying us open to disease.

Man in his normal state had no need of instruction in breathing. Like the lower animal and the child, he breathed naturally and properly, as nature intended him to do, but civilization has changed him in this and other respects. He has contracted improper methods and attitudes of walking, standing and sitting, which have robbed him of his birthright of natural and correct breathing. He has paid a high price for civilization. The savage, today, breathes naturally, unless he has been contaminated by the habits of civilized man.

The Occidental teachings show that the physical health depends very materially upon correct breathing. The Oriental teachers not only admit that their Occidental brothers are right, but say that in addition to the physical benefit derived from correct habits of breathing, Man's mental power, happiness, self-control, clear-sightedness, morals, and even his spiritual growth may be increased by an understanding of the "Science of Breath."

The Yogi practises exercises by which he attains control of his body, and is enabled to send to any organ or part an increased flow of vital force or "prana," thereby strengthening and invigorating the part or organ. He knows all that his Western scientific brother knows about the physiological effect of correct breathing, but he also knows that the air contains more than oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen, and that something more is accomplished than the mere oxygenating of the blood.



The modern rock climbing training includes breathing techniques, but is still very materially oriented, very control oriented. With the control of breathing you can bring oxygen to your muscles, but this is just a little improvement.
Breath and life are synonymous: in India prana means vitality, but it also mean breath. They have given one word for both, for aliveness and breathing. Breath is a bridge between your body and the world, if this bridge breaks you cannot be alive. But you can make this bridge stronger, this connection can be more deep, more conscious. In rock climbing these is very significant as you have to be very connected with the enviroment where you are practicing: breathing can be a bridge between you and the enviroment.


The article image: Shower Below the Summit (Sanka hakuu), from the series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" ("Fugaku sanjurokkei"), c. 1830–32, by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. The series depicts Mount Fuji in differing seasons and weather conditions from a variety of different places.