garden yoga

Garden Yoga: 6 Poses to Rejuvenate Your Body During the Growing Season

Yoga can help offset some of the soreness and stiffness associated with backyard gardening.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There's almost nothing as gratifying as growing your own organic food in your backyard—that's about as local as it gets! And though gardening helps us get out and exercise while providing fresh, healthy produce, and/or beautiful flowers for pollinators, the constant pulling, pushing, and lifting motions involved with it can leave us feeling a bit stiff and out of alignment. For relief, we turned to senior-certified Iyengar yoga instructor Rebecca Lerner, codirector of the Center for Well Being in Lemont, PA, to suggest some poses everyday gardeners could practice to rejuvenate after a day of weeding, mulching, hoeing, digging, and pruning. You can practice any or all of these poses in your garden, and even use garden staples and trees in your yard to assist in a better stretch. Use the poses to work out the kinks after some time in the garden, or do them regularly to stay limber.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This classic yoga pose will help open your shoulders and chest and the backs of your legs while strengthening your upper body. For people with stiffer joints, try using a bench for support, as shown.

To assume the pose, bend at the waist so your hands are flat on the ground or on a support. Your hands should be 6 to 12 inches apart. Keep your knees bent, about hip-width apart, and let your heels lift off the ground. Slowly start to straighten your knees—but don’t lock them. Gently begin to move your upper body in toward your thighs until your ears are in line with your upper arms. Keep your hips up (don't let them sag) and at the same time push strongly into your hands. Llift your sit bones toward the sky so that your body makes an inverted "V."

Repeat this, and the following poses, three to five times.
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Stand facing a bench. Keeping your weight on your left leg, lift your right leg and place your heel on the bench. Keep your hips even. Slowly extend your torso over the right leg, bending at the waist, while reaching the hands toward the ankles (or shins) to gently stretch your hamstrings. Hold the position for 30 seconds, or less if that is not comfortable. Repeat and switch to the other leg.
Beginning Stage to Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

The camel pose can be a bit tricky for a tight-backed beginner, but a gardener can experience a beneficial stretch by performing just the first stage of the pose. Kneel in the grass, keeping your back straight, making sure your knees are directly beneath your hips. Keep your hips, knees, shoulders and ears all in line. Then place the palms of your hands on the small of your back or just below your buttocks. As you inhale, inflate your chest and feel your breastbone rise, floating the ribcage up and off the waist.

Wide Leg Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Stand up on your lawn and spread your legs wide, as shown in the photo. Bend at the hips and touch the grass. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Stand with your feet together, 9 to 12 inches from a tree or wall. Lean back with your lower back against the tree, but keep your upper back tilted slightly forward so only your lower back touches the tree. Extend your arms straight in front of you as shown in the photo. Slowly slide down the tree as if sitting, bending your knees and going as far down as you can while keeping your back straight, but slightly away from the trunk, and your arms parallel to the ground. Hold for a few breaths. To come out of the pose, bend forward, place your hands on the ground, and stand up.
Upward Hands Pose Variation (Urdhva Hastasana)

Stand up straight, holding a garden rake horizontally over your head, palms facing forward. Keeping your arms extended, gently twist to the right and then to the left.


Published on: May 26, 2010

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