The Yoga of Gardening
There is a natural burst of energy that we all seem to feel in the spring. We can get overly enthusiastic in our outdoor activities, like gardening, golfing … and we pay the price, usually in our lower back and shoulders. .
Here is a great way to make your gardening part of a daily self-healing ritual by incorporating simple, yet powerful, JoyFull yoga techniques to help you with some of the physical demands. This fusion of yoga and gardening can be a source of nurturing and healing.
- Make a list of 3 to 5 of your favorite yoga poses & stretching exercises from class (we will be learning specific “garden friendly” exercises in the JoyFull Yoga classes: Wed 10 am; Friday 9:30 & 11:30 am; Saturday 9:30 am). Keep your list with your gardening tools
- Make sure you have water, not just for the garden, but also for yourself.
- Before you start working in the garden practice the Pelvic Breath: This is part of a JoyFull yoga practice. You can do it lying on the floor, sitting or standing. It strengthens the pelvic floor & core muscles. This practice can alleviate and prevent lower back pain. (this is also great to use while golfing)
- Start by standing (or sitting in a chair) before your start gardening, feeling the feet firmly planted, pressing toes and heels into the ground, tighten buttock muscles.
- Take a deep breath into your belly as you open your arms, bend the knees slightly, squeeze the shoulder blades, arch your back and lift your chin; invite the sunlight into your lungs, and hold the breath, filling your whole body with sunlight.
- As you exhale, straighten your legs as you bring your hands to your belly, pressing the belly in, contract the pelvic floor muscles doing what is called root lock (which is similar to a “Kegel”) while holding the breath out for 3 to 5 counts. (To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas.) Repeat this for at least 3 breaths.
- Set a timer on your phone, watch or use a kitchen timer, to go off every 15 minutes and at that time stop for your “Gardening Yoga Break”:
- Stand up; interlace your hands behind you and stretch. Again breathe in the spring air; then practice the pelvic breath again; invite the spring air as you breathe in to renew every cell in your body. Practice at least 3 breaths.
- Stretch your hands out in front of you and shake your hands at the wrist in front of you. Continue for 5 to 10 then shake them above your head. Keep breathing as you shake, shake, shake…
- Relax your hands by your side and rest your chin towards your chest for a few breaths.
- Straighten your head and roll your shoulders back at least 3 times: breathing in on the way up, and out on the way down. Then roll them forward 3 times.
- Forward fold: Taking a deep breath reach your arms up to the sky; feel your feet pressing into the earth, grateful for the gifts of the sun, and as you exhale bring your hands down toward the earth, grateful for the gifts it brings. Repeat at least 3 times.
- Practice one of your favorite yoga poses &/or stretches (from your list) before returning to your task. Cat-cow pose is a great choice. Try it with your hands on the seat of a chair.
At least once a day sit or stand near your gratitude garden and breathe into your heart; think about something you feel grateful for in that moment as you hold your breath; let it fill your whole body; expand the belly (count to 4 or 8); as you slowly exhale, imagine the breath coming straight up through the top of your head sending a thank you note to the Universe. Do this for at least 3 breaths. Maintaining a grateful heart is a powerful way to maintain a healthy heart. It contributes to our sense of wellbeing and connects us more deeply to the ‘NOW.” Each time you tend to your garden take time to clear your mind of any negative thoughts. As your mind wanders, redirect your thoughts to the task at hand.
Don’t forget to take as good care of yourself as you do your garden(s).