Yoga and Gardening: Taking Care of Ourselves While Tending the Garden
Are you a gardener who practices yoga? Or a yogi who wants to garden? With the warmer months ahead, many of you will be spending the mild, sunny days in the outdoors tending to your garden. I am a gardener, too and I very well know the great lengths we go in taking care of our gardens, but we must also take care of ourselves in the process.
Gardening is a wonderful way to fertilize the earth with plantings of flowers, vegetables, and trees. Gardening also brings a relaxing, meditative quality to our minds since it requires much patience and concentration while sowing seeds, weeding, pruning, and watering. We spend so many hours nurturing our garden that we forget about our own well-being, until fatigue, soreness, and lower back pain unkindly settles into our bodies. Sound familiar? What are we as gardeners to do then? Yoga of course!
Yoga is about bringing balance, and there is certainly an imbalance when a garden is healthy, strong, and thriving, yet the very person who gave it much love and care becomes injured. Stooping, squatting, kneeling, and hunching over creates tension, soreness, and tightness in the shoulders, upper and lower back, chest, knees, hip flexors, abdominals, and feet. The most important gardening tool, our hands, may also suffer from repetitive movement which can lead to tendinitis. Yoga is also about practicing Ahimsa (non-violence), and we should be mindful not to bring injury and pain to ourselves.
There are many gentle, common yoga poses that are especially helpful not only to counter stretch the muscles we use in gardening, but to also build strength and flexibility needed to work in the garden.
- Take care of your body each gardening season with ankle and wrist circles, cat/dog, down dog, half moon, forward bends, backbends such as camel and cobra, child’s pose, twists, and legs up against the wall. These are all wonderful stretches to bring relief to you while keeping your muscles strong and loose.
- You may practice a few poses before, during, or after your gardening tasks. If you’re outside, use your walls or chairs to perform these poses if you need the extra support.
- Two of my favorite poses to do while pulling weeds are balancing half moon (Ardha Chandrasana) when I need to reach and extend, yet remain strong, grounded, and balanced so I don’t fall over, and wide legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana) to release my lower back, free up the hips, stretch the hamstrings, and rest my knees.
Be creative in discovering and playing with yoga poses in your garden!
And remember these wise words: “Take rest now; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” ~Ovid