- Baxter Bell, MD
Yoga for Gardening, Part 3: After the Work!
Once again, on the verge of the Spring Equinox, thoughts turn to the garden! If you missed my first 2 installments of Yoga for Gardening, you can catch up here, where I cover pre-gardening yoga and yoga while you are in the garden.
Since I wrote those 2 posts, I went from living in a town house with no garden beds to tend to now living in a free-standing house with a really lovely yard. But keeping it looking good requires regular maintenance: raking, weeding, bush and tree trimming and more. And where I live in the Bay Area of Northern California, there is yard work all year round.
And an hour or two in the yard can definitely leave me tired and sore. So, today, I wanted to share with you my Post-Gardening Yoga Practice, perfect if you skipped preparing for your gardening time with yoga, or failed to include some yoga poses and mindfulness into your time in the yard. Now, there is no excuse for not utilizing the tools of yoga to support your time in the garden this spring!
Post-Gardening Yoga Practice:
You’ve been bending over, squatting, reaching up- basically on your feet in different ways for a few hours, so let’s start off close to the earth, and go from there:
1) Strap to Foot Pose, all variations This is a great way to release tightness in the hips and lower back, get the legs up in the air and the weight off the feet for a few minutes. Spend up to 1-2 minutes in each variation:
2) Once you have the hips warmed up with your first set of positions, try out Happy Baby Pose to get into some hidden spots in the hips and legs:
3) Try this version of Dynamic Arm Overhead next, but add in the interlace of your fingers, and do 3 rounds with palms facing up when arms are overhead and 3 rounds with palms down (the video does not show the bound hand versions):
4) Now comes the time to release the sides of the body with Dynamic Crescent Moon:
5) If you are up and down on the balls of your feet in the garden, the calves can get really tight. This Calf Stretch is done at a wall:
6) Another area that can tire and tighten are the strong front thigh muscles. This Quad Stretch it a nice way to address this region:
7) This series of practices is great for the hands, wrists and forearms, especially if you were doing a lot of trimming in your last gardening session: all 3 versions of Wrist Flossing:
Wrist Flossing Part 1
Wrist Flossing Part 2
Wrist Flossing Part 3
The last 3 poses are quieter poses for the lower back and spine, which can’t get enough love if you are in the garden a lot:
8) The first is an accessible back bend, done on your belly, the Sphinx Pose: Come onto your belly, with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly beneath the shoulders. Bring your palms together in prayer position and press the entire length of the forearms firmly into the floor, lifting your breast bone as you do. Either keep the belly and legs relaxed, or engage the belly towards the spine and firm the leg muscle, which ever combo feels more supportive of the lower back, Keep the breath relaxed and stay for 8-16 breaths, resting flat after you are done. See photo:
9) Another wonderful finishing pose is Child's Pose: open a blanket to support your shins, knees apart, edges of big toes touching with toes pointing away from you. Slowly round the torso over the legs and let the forehead either rest on the floor or stacked hands or a block. Your arms can be out in front of you, resting on floor, or back beside the legs. Keep the breath relaxed and stay for 8-16 breaths. See photo:
10) Finally, to help open up the upper back, try setting up with 2 yoga blocks in Supported Backbend, with the block under the chest lengthwise on middle height and the block under the head lengthwise on highest height (as pictured), or chest block on lowest height sideways and head block on middle height lengthwise. Remain for 1-2 minutes with easy, gentle breaths. Bend your knees and roll to the side to come up and finish your post-gardening yoga practice!