Growing beautiful flowers or a bounty of fresh veggies in your garden shouldn’t come at the cost of aches and pains in your body. If you take the time to stretch before you leave the garden, you will feel more like a nature sylph and less like a stooped garden gnome.
Print out a copy of this page and tuck it into the pocket of your gardening clothes. Next time you head out to the yard with your tools, follow this mid-way through or at the end of your gardening work. You will quickly see why yoga for gardeners is so useful and relaxing.
From a squatting position over your plants, straighten your legs, planting your feet flat on the ground. Let your head and torso hang downward as your raise your pelvis toward the sky. Let your neck hang limply. Bend your knees softly and try to press your upper body closer to your thighs. Surrender your entire upper body to gravity, hanging as loose as a ragdoll, but remaining firmly planted through your legs and feet. This standing forward fold position should help reduce pain in your lower back.
Next, as you inhale, slowly uncurl your back one vertebra at a time. Permit your head to tip downward until you slowly roll upward from base of the spine through top of the neck. Then clasp your hands behind your back as you exhale. On an inhalation, press your clasped hands downward and permit your shoulders to follow, but permit your heart and upper chest to slowly lift toward your chin.
Squeeze your inner thighs slightly inward as you continue to tip your collar bones to open toward the sky. This modified back bend can help reverse the feeling of rounded shoulders many gardeners experience after bending over their plants for long periods of time.
Release your clasped hands, placing your palms on the side of your hips. Step your feet apart so they are nearly 3 feet away from each other. Exhale and slide your hips to the right and upward as you tip your shoulders to the left and downward. The movement of your upper body should be more lateral than forward. Inhale and return to an upright position, shoulders over hips again. Then on your next exhalation, repeat this side stretch/modified triangle pose to the opposite side.
After doing your side stretch two times to each side, return to center. Move your hands so that instead of resting on the same side hips, the right hand reaches across the front of your body to the left hip and the left hand reaches across the back of the body toward the right hip. Pivot on your feet so that your toes now point toward the left side. Exhale and fold about 6-12 inches forward, turning your head to the left. Inhale and stand upright again. Pivot your feet back to their previous position, toes facing center again, and let your arms relax by your side.
Now place your hands so that this time the left hand reaches across the front of the body to the right hip and your right hands reaches behind you toward the left hip. Pivot your toes to face toward the right. Exhale and fold 6-12 inches forward again, this time looking toward the right. Inhale and bring your head back over your hips. Turn the feet to face center again as you relax the arms by your side. Standing twists like this help literally wring tension and tightness out of the muscles.
Finally, step your feet back hip distance apart again. Keeping the knees soft, exhale and fold forward, dropping the head toward the chest and then turning the neck down. Slowly move down the spine, letting each vertebra roll forward and downward separately as you return to your forward fold position. From here, you can return to a squatting position to resume gardening again. Or, if you have completed your garden work for the day, roll out of the forward fold on an inhalation as you did previously.
Have your say! Are you a gardener? Are you a gardener who also happens to practice yoga? Has doing yoga made you feel less stiff and sore after garden work? Add your thoughts in the comments section below and check out our gentle yoga video series that we filmed for you in beautiful Bali.
Tags Yoga for Seniors