words by Marissa Land pics by Sandra Eldabe
I’m sure that throughout your climbing life you’ve heard many times over, ‘Climbing is all about the feet’. As beginner climbers, our more experienced friends tried their best to drill this into our brains. But no matter how many times someone told you to ‘look for the feet’, you found yourself reaching for the next handhold, and slapping your feet on a hold as an afterthought as you desperately fought to move upward.
As beginner climbers, our footwork tends to be clumsy because we simply don’t have a connection with our feet. We don’t know how to use them, we lack understanding and coordination, and we a lack a general awareness of the feet. Foot technique is a learned skill. It takes practice. Through continued climbing, we start to understand the movement that originates in specific foot placement, and develop the sensitivity in the feet to ‘feel’ what good foot placement actually is. This sensitivity is all about being able to spread your awareness down into your feet and imperceptibly communicate with your brain to move and place your feet in very specific positions. These specific positions can be trained as individual skills or learnt over time simply by climbing. But one thing you possibly haven’t considered in your foot training regime is yoga.
Foot placement and activation of the feet is a big deal in yoga with many asanas, particularly standing postures, focusing on strong foundations through the feet to bring alignment to the rest of the body. The attitude is similar to climbing: how you place your feet sets up the rest of the body. And, just like beginner climbers, beginner yoga students are often disconnected from their feet, which is why standing poses appear so prevalently in foundational yoga courses . . .