Yoga for Gardening
If there’s one thing I love almost as much as gardening and food, it is definitely yoga. If I had it my way I would be on my mat every single day. Of course that almost never happens, but I do try to get in a decent practice at least 3-4 times a week.
I lead a power yoga class twice a week at my local fitness center and will be adding a new gentle class once a month starting next week. This past week I joined a class at a brand new yoga studio in a nearby town and hope to practice there a couple of times a week as well. When at home I’ll try to practice anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half, often streaming an online sequence via Yogaglo.com.
Maybe someday I’ll actually go through a formal training program, but for now I’m have a great time with my practice at home, the fitness center and now a pretty new yoga studio.
So as a gardener, I want to share just a few of my favorite yoga poses that I feel complement our bodies for the chores of outdoor garden work. Starting or continuing a practice this winter, you may increase your strength and flexibility which will help prevent wear and tear on your body when garden seasoning comes on strong again next spring. ’Cause let’s face it bending over for long periods of time and raking, etc. can create some not-so-fun aches in our bodies.
Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Down dog is one of those all-around poses that just makes you feel great. This pose can stretch out tightness in your hands, shoulders, spine, hamstrings, calves and feet, which can be helpful for those times we clamp tightly around garden tools and do repetitive raking or digging motions that can create muscle tension. It is also a great arm and shoulder strengthener, which is important to have for shoveling piles of compost or carrying heavy planters.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
After I first started a yoga practice, I realized it was my weak core that could usually be blamed for various back pains. Pretty much all physical activities associated with gardening start from or pass through our core. Bending, twisting, lifting, reaching, carrying….you name it. You can keep your core strong with poses like boat and its many variations.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
One of my overall favorites is bound angle pose, also referred to as ‘butterfly’ pose. This one gets a good stretch on the hips, especially the inner hips and also relieves tension in the low back as you fold forward. I know we could all use some low back relief after picking a huge crop of green beans.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
A couple of years ago I was pulling up zinnias in late fall for garden clean up. I remember tugging and tugging away and then hearing a soft ‘pop’ in my chest. It didn’t hurt at the time, but over the next few days I had an increasing sharp pain in my chest. Thankfully a trip to the chiropractor slipped my rib back into place and relieved the pain in an instant.
Chest opening poses are not exactly my favorite. I know they are important for my body though, as an open and flexible chest will be less prone to this type of injury. Bridge pose is a simple pose that opens the chest and also stretches the neck and shoulders.
As cold weather settles in and you find yourself flipping through those seed catalogs and planning out your garden spaces, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Find your mat, join a class or log on to a site like Yogaglo.com and prepare for your gardening activities with a wonderful yoga practice.
Yoga is good stuff and can be for all ages and physical levels…and you don’t even need to be a gardener. ;)
But also keep in mind to take it easy in the garden. No matter how much yoga you do, it won’t counteract the effects of doing way more than you can physically handle. I’ve learned that lesson a few times this past year!