Yoga for Gardeners

Winter is the perfect time to start creating garden rituals and commit to a healthy and strong upcoming garden season. If I didn't work on my abs and power through push ups, there would be no WAY I'd make it through the year. Start early this year and dedicate time to a healthier you.

I met Erin Jasmine Taylor a few years ago when she interviewed me for an article. I have since reconnected with her through yoga and her garden - she has a new house in Ballard and is itching to get growing in 2012. I asked Erin to jot down some ideas for a stronger garden core, and she sent me this awesome post. Read on. Be well! Do it! It helps!

From Erin -

Listen up, gardeners. As you wind down your gardens this winter, be sure to tend your body with equal loving care. Just a few minutes of post-garden season yoga will help you avoid a sore back and hips, strengthen your core, and can help to open up other pesky spots—like the area between your thumb and forefinger that’s cryin’ out from raking and pruning. It’s no different than a runner taking a few minutes to stretch post-run. It makes sense.

Try out this sequence when you set down your shovel for the year. If you get into the flow this winter, your practice will carry you through spring when garden season kicks up again. It is a must for any eager gardener.

All you need is your fine self, a wall, and your breath—be sure to breathe deeply!

Limber digits (because fingers and hands get sore, too!)

Reach arms in front of you with palms facing and thumbs pointing up. Wrap left fingers around right thumb and gently pull thumb toward your body while continuing to reach fingers forward. Release thumb and flex palm so it’s facing forward and use the left hand to gently pull fingers back toward your body. Hold each variation for 5 breaths. Switch sides.

Cat/cow (to keep your spine from tightening up after a hard day’s work)

Get on all fours with shoulders over wrists/hips over knees (place padding under your knees if you need it!)Spread your fingers wide so you feel the webbing between your fingers stretch, and flatten palms. As you inhale, lift your hips/chest/chin as your low back sags into cow. As you exhale round your spine and press the floor away with your hands so your shoulder blades spread into cat. Repeat back and forth, moving with your breath. Continue for 10 full breaths.

Spinal balance (strengthens the core for easier bending to reach for weeds)

Stay on all fours and gaze at the floor so your neck is neutral. Reach your right arm forward so your bicep is alongside your ear, and your left leg back while keeping your hips square toward the floor. Switch sides for 1 rep. Repeat 10 reps.

Figure 4 (because open hips make for happier knees)

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and interlace your fingers around your left hamstring to support the legs as you lift them up. Rock slightly to the left to increase the intensity of the stretch. Hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides.

Squat prep (increases hip mobility for easier getting down in the dirt)

Stand with your back to the wall with feet wider than hips width apart, heels angled in, toes angled out. Bend your knees, tracking the knees over the ankles, as you slide down the wall to come into a deep squat (stay up a bit higher if your knees bother you). Lean back into the wall and join your palms in the center of your chest, using your elbows to gently press your knees back toward the wall. Your weight should be heavy in your heels and you glutes should be relaxed as you encourage your hips to open. Hold for 10 breaths.

And now, thank yourself and your garden—and drink a big glass of water. Or wine!

Erin Jasmine Taylor is the owner of Seattle-based Jasyoga. While she specializes in yoga for athletes, she appreciates that gardening can be just as much of a workout as running, swimming, or climbing. Jasyoga offers group and private instruction tailored to specific needs of active people of all kinds—try it out Sundays 11:30am at Vera Fitness in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood—all levels welcome! Visit her site to learn more.