Climbing the walls

20 January 2022
Abi Nolan

The merits of mindful movement of all kinds are lauded far and wide and not only for the endorphin release earned by a raised heart rate and the flow state that can be achieved when one is truly in it. The simple act of taking a break from ruminating on the past and worrying about the future offers up a refreshing break from the heaviness, a chance to take a step back from the forces that are increasingly vying for our attention. For just as long as you are enjoying effortlessly being here, now as you focus on the sole task of walking, running, practicing yoga, swimming or climbing, you can set aside at least some of your urgent anxieties about your experience of the ongoing intersecting crises, both macro and micro, that we’re all at risk of giving too much of our energy to right now.

I’ve been seeking strength, escape and some semblance of play to dilute a sobering case of late onset covid-disruption-concussion. I’ve found some of what I need at the climbing wall. It’s been energising to pursue the push / pull of the forearm flexors I forgot I had and to disrupt patterns of movement ingrained in my muscle memory. Having allowed myself to prioritise the preservation of comfort and safety at all costs since March 2020, it is a strange joy to micro dose on the adrenaline of being up high, losing grip and feeling unsure about how to find my route down.

you can’t not be there in that moment, taking a holiday from all else.

Just as focusing on breath, alignment and sensation keeps your mind on the moment during your yoga practice, bouldering demands that you focus on contorting your body to the shapes dictated by the holds on the wall. For survival, climbing expects you to calculate the most efficient distribution of weight as you trust your tightly packed toes to anchor you on impossible surface after impossible surface. In lieu of finding your route all the way up or a controlled descent to the safety of the crash mat, bouldering’s third and final option is to abandon ship and drop, to surrender to gravity. Either way you can’t not be there in that moment, taking a holiday from all else.

 

At Supply, we share mindful movement and safe shared experiences where access is often limited because it is increasingly clear that the benefits of a momentary pause on the noise of life are universal. Making the decision to seek strength, escape and some semblance of play by climbing the walls will not only provide me with that elusive flow state, improved strength and satisfying sense of accomplishment, but the positive impact of my fulfilment might just bubble over into the orbit of my loved ones. Beyond that, in some small way, it might just feed positively into my perspective on those crises that occupy my thoughts just as soon as I hit the crash mat, and in turn, the way I approach my work and my aspirations to innovate in the health and social justice space. Supply is driven by the idea that whole community wellness requires a whole community effort and it is a joy to see first hand that the simple act of climbing the walls might not just lift me, but once it’s minerals have filtered down through the rock, it’s effects might lift those around me too.

Abi is the founder of Supply Yoga and a writer interested in people, place, movement and health equity.